CACINA

Homily September 20, 2015 25th Sunday in Ordinary Time

Posted in Called, Faith, homily, inspirational, scripture, Spirit, Word by Fr Joe R on September 16, 2015

25sundayToday’s gospel has Jesus telling his disciple for the second time that he must suffer and die at the hands of the chief priests and scribes. The idea of suffering and an angry God is a notion that somehow became prevalent and the notion that suffering was very much a necessity for a christian the whole concept of redemption. Taking up one’s cross came to mean to suffer in some painful way to make up for our sinfulness. It became almost that Jesus came only to suffer and die. But then, what of his teaching and preaching, his love and his service and God’s mercy shown through him? God sent his son into the world to confirm his relationship and love for us, especially the lowly, the deprived, the ones who most 25sunneeded his love. Love certainly involves sacrifice, as in giving of yourself to another you are sacrificing some of what you are and giving it to another. God in giving Jesus was giving his very son, love itself so fully, that the inevitable abuse of that love would lead to his suffering and death. Jesus knew the inevitability of his death, yet, he did not desire it or seek it out, but as we know, he accepted it for the carrying out of His father’s will and for the service of God’s love and mercy to all. While love ad mercy might at time lead to suffering and even death, god is not angry or vengeful but loving and merciful for all who reach out to him. Those who call out to him are the poor, the suffering, the marginalized. The self-sufficient don’t need God, wouldn’t recognize him if he reached out to him. In Jesus’ time the chief priest, the elders, the scribes were so self contained that they could not see God acting in their midst. Their eyes could not see.
A way to understand God’s love is to look at the love in marriage. The love is a 25sugiving, a sacrifice of self to become a we, one in a new union with love as the center and reason for life together. In sacrifice and love and giving, two grow and mature and live together in a new and different way. The joys out weigh the sorrows for the most part, but in the end, love holds it all together. Their relationship is steeled and strengthened through many good things and through the hard and bad things as well. So it is God’s love reaches out and shares itself with us in all things, God’s love never fails, unless we fail in our love for him.

Homily for the 15th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year A 2014

Homily for the 15th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year A  2014

Although the dominant theme of the first and last reading is about metaphorically sowing seeds, first by Isaiah in his preaching, and secondly, by Christ in his parables, I would like to concentrate my comments today on the second reading of Paul to the Romans.

Paul begins by commenting on the sufferings of the present time. While he is referring to his own time and the persecutions and struggles of the young community, we can also accept that it means our present time on earth. I think each generation for two thousand years has had unique types of suffering in their present time from the Black Death to AIDS, from Roman martyrs to Jewish Holocaust victims. Suffering is something that has unfortunately been with us through the ages.

Paul’s comment on the sufferings we endure, however, is that no amount of suffering can compare with the glory that will come to us in the end. But we cannot know this – it is promised to us – and it must be revealed to us by faith. In other words, the sufferings we endure in our brief life spans will turn into a glorious new life, one without suffering, without fear, without death.

Glory might also refer to the revelation itself. When Paul wrote, the Gospels had not yet been written, and perhaps the Word of God, spoken by Isaiah and by Jesus in the readings today, is the glory which is coming.

In either case – the sufferings will stop. And Paul extends this idea in very universal terms. The whole of creation has been waiting for this revelation. Because of the first sin, all sorts of evil, but especially death has entered the world – we are as Paul says, in bondage to decay – and it is in turning away from God and his creation that men and women have brought this suffering into the world.  It was not in God’s plan which was for there to be the “freedom of glory” for “the children of God”.

And so we have that remarkable image of childbirth – the world in labor pains waiting for the birth of the glory of the children of God, for people to be rescued for the suffering and death that had been in command.

I don’t know how many of you have actually given birth or witnessed a birth. I remember vividly the difference between my two children’s birth. They are 5 years apart so a lot had changed in those five years.  For my oldest I was allowed in the labor room with my wife, but was kicked out just before the birth. All I saw was the pain, and I was actually quite resentful of that pain. It really bothered me for a long time. But when my second came along five years later, I was allowed to be there for the whole birth and was able to experience the pain turn into absolute joy. This is what Paul is talking about. Pain turning into joy or glory! 

Extending the image though, Paul says that while we are on earth we are still experiencing the labor pains and haven’t yet experienced the glory. Through revelation, through the teachings of Jesus, through our faith, we know that we will experience it, however. This is the good soil that Jesus talks about today. We hear the revelation, the word, and we understand it, and because of that we will bear fruit, we will give birth, we will come to glory at the end of our earthly lives.

These teachings of Paul that come from Jesus’ own words are so optimistic, so stress reducing, if we just hear them. Yes, we have to struggle in this life, our lives are filled with loss, with pain, with sorrow, with fear, with sin. But we know that God is in the process of making the world good again and we can have faith that God is true to his Word and his Vision and will complete the work.

Death for the Christian will be a freeing event – will we be born again and experience God. At the end of time, there will be no more death, no more suffering and the world will be restored to its original goodness.

What can this mean to us this week? I hope that it gives us the strength to get through difficult times. To know that our sufferings will have an end, and like pain in the birth of a child, the pain will produce something glorious. Let this sustain us in those difficult times. Eye has not seen, ear has not hear what God has prepared for those who love him, Paul has told us in Corinthians. Let that sustain us when we are down.

Let us keep the soil of our lives good and receive the hundredfold promised us.

And this is the Good News, the revelation of things to come that our reading of Paul and of the Gospel tells us today.

Bishop Ron Stephens 

Pastor of St. Andrew’s Parish in Warrenton, VA

The Catholic Apostolic Church in North America (CACINA)

[You can purchase a complete Cycle A of Bishop Ron’s homilies, 75 of them, from amazon.com for $9.99 – “Teaching the Church Year”]

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