Sunday, October 22, 2006

Want the glory? Share the Cross (Sunday homily at St. Mary)

It’s a hard thing to suffer.

A lot of families in our community
are suffering: not enough work;
not enough to pay the bills.

Our community is suffering.
These economic woes
magnify personal and family ones.
A family member strikes out in anger—or pulls away;
Someone seeks solace in the bottle or the Internet.
Many single or divorced parents struggle alone.
These are the hurts many around us face.

I know many parents face these burdens,
and bear them, trying to spare their children…
May I say to you: You have a courage I cannot fathom,
and I am filled with admiration for you.
Know that, if your children don’t understand now,
they will in time; and they will admire that courage too.

It’s what the first reading described:
“If he gives his life as an offering,”
“he shall see his descendants in a long life,
and the will of the LORD
shall be accomplished through him.”

As I said, our community is suffering, too.
It challenges us to ask—
how can we respond to these needs?
We have a St. Vincent de Paul fund—
thank you for your generosity.
And I’m not complaining or begging, but:
there’s so much more I wish we could afford to do.

Right now, about all we can do is patchwork.
Our parish staff is smaller, but the needs are greater;
so, unfortunately, we do less from our offices,
and we coordinate more
with Bethany Center and Salvation Army.

That first reading is for us, then, too:
If you and I give our lives as an offering—
here in Piqua!—
we shall see our descendants in a long life,
and the will of the LORD shall be accomplished…
through us!

We look further—at the situation of our world.

We have crime in our streets;
Places like Iraq and Darfur
face war and genocide in their streets.

Some in our community lack medical care
or a decent place to live…

In Haiti, if you have a home—you’re middle class!
And if you have a toilet, you’re rich!

Gives you some perspective, doesn’t it?
How blessed we are!
Yet, what suffering we do experience—
in the words of the second reading—
enables us to sympathize with others’ weaknesses.
That’s what the Son of God did
in coming to earth, as our High Priest.
See how that works?

It’s not that suffering and pain are good; they’re bad.
But in our world, such things help us understand.
They help us know how to respond.

What did the Lord tell his Apostles?
You want glory and honor?
Drink the cup—share my Cross!
And he says the same to us.

This is what my mother, and yours, taught us:
“Offer it up!”

No, that doesn’t mean, be a doormat.
It means this: I had a cold recently.
Instead of whining, "poor me,"
I offer it to Jesus, as my little sliver of the Cross.

Little sacrifices: no dessert; no meat on Friday;
a pain in your back—
or a neighborhood “pain in the neck”!

I know, you wonder, how can that do any good?
How can my cold, last week,
contribute to the salvation of the world?
That’s not for us to know, is it?

But we do know the Lord said:
you want to share the glory? Share the Cross!

Offer it up!

Notice what a great act of humility this is:
We’re proud to bring an impressive gift;
instead, we have to bring something so insignificant!

Parents, when you teach your children
these small sacrifices,
you are starting them on the path to heroic virtue:
this really is the school of sainthood!

This is how we begin to learn the courage it takes
to be a priest, to be a nun,
to be a faithful spouse and parent;
to be a missionary, to be a police officer or a soldier;
to be a worker for justice in countless ways.

This is how we become people
who don’t care about money and power,
but rather, will risk all—even our own lives—
to stand up for the poor, to fight for others.

This is how we become people
who will risk anything and everything
that Christ may be better known!

“For the Son of Man did not come
to be served but to serve…
and to give his life as a ransom for many.”

You want the glory? Share the Cross.


Barb Szyszkiewicz said...

Thank you, Father! "Offer it up" is something I may have tried to do quietly in my own life, but I have not encouraged my children to do the same. You have given me good reason to do so!

Tracy said...

I am always thankful for the gift of being able to "offer it up". What is the point of our suffering if it can't be shared with Jesus for something greater?

Wonderful as always Fr.! We were talking about richness/materialism at our ME Cirlce the other night, so very timely indeed.

Colleen said...

Great homily, and a subject dear to my heart.

Just today, I had to do what is the worst part of pregnancy for me: giving a few vials of blood for testing. I closed my eyes, took deep breaths, and repeated over and over to God, "Please, let this tiny bit of suffering help someone, somewhere in the universe."

I'm sure there were people with real health problems not too far away from me. But 'every little helps' in contributing to His Kingdom, right? :-)