19 thg 6, 2016

Homily for Twelfth Sunday In Ordinary Time C (June 19, 2016)



Our daily cross

My dear bothers and sisters,

Today’s gospel poses the central question of our faith: “Who do you say that I am?” Disciples of Jesus have different ideas of who Jesus was. Some said he was John the Baptizer, others claimed he was Elijah or one of the prophets, St. Peter declared that Jesus was the Messiah. Today, the question is addressed to each of us personally, and the answer must come from personally too. We will not find that answer in a book, but in the heart. If we are to follow Jesus, we must join in his journey, as Peter did. We must take up the cross of daily living, faithful to his call, so that he can lead us to the fullness of life. That is why He tells his disciples and us too, if anyone wishes to come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it. (Luke 9:23-24)
In the lives of each of us there may be something painful, big or small, something that we wish to be different. In the lives of each of us there is a cross. The cross can be caused by somebody else, or we may bring a cross on ourselves due to our choices or sometimes the cross is neither the fault of others nor ourselves, but because of the accidents of life or simply because we are human and do not have the perfection of God.
At first we may deny that we have a cross. Perhaps we do not want to face the pain of the cross so we pretend that everything is fine, we have no cross. But one of the mysteries of life is that a grace awaits us if we carry our cross just as resurrection awaited Jesus after he died. If we deny our cross we are losing out on the grace God has planned to give us.
After we move beyond denying our cross and admit that we have a cross we may experience anger. We ask the question, “Why?”, “Why me?”, “I didn’t deserve this.” “Why did God allow this to happen to me?” It is natural reaction. We see Peter reacting like this in Matthew’s account of what we read today from Luke. When Jesus indicated that he would suffer and die in Jerusalem, in Matthew’s Gospel Peter rebuked him and said, ‘Heaven preserve you, Lord. This must not happen to you’ (Matt 16:22). At this stage of coping with our cross we may be angry with others, or even angry with God. It is easy to blame God when we cannot understand why we are in pain.
After feeling anger towards God or others previously it is possible later to experience anger with oneself because of one’s cross. Anger turned in towards ourselves is sometimes called depression.
When we move beyond anger with ourselves or depression because of our cross we arrive at where it was meant to lead us all the time, grace. We accept and cherish a grace in the plan of God for us because of our cross. One of the mysteries of life is that a grace accompanies every cross or we will receive a grace if we carry our cross. Jesus would not have risen from the dead if he did not die on the cross and we are running away from a grace that awaits us if we are running away from our cross. Any cross is painful but with prayer and the help of other people we can carry our crosses, and we need to pray a lot if we have a heavy cross. Jesus, on the night before he died, suffered in agony in the Garden in Gethsemane. “Father if it is your will, let this cup pass me by. Not my will but yours be done.” (Matt 26:39)

May God help us to deny ourselves and take up our crosses daily and follow him. Amen.
Fr. Joseph Pham, O.P.

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