Encouraging Others with the Encouragement We Have Received from Christ, Tenth Monday (I), June 8, 2015

Fr. Roger J. Landry
Basilica of St. Peter, Polish Chapel, Vatican City
Pilgrimage for US Journalists to Rome
Tuesday of the Tenth Week in Ordinary Time, Year I
Votive Mass of St. Peter
June 8, 2015
2 Cor 1:1-7, Ps 34, Mt 5:1-12

 

To listen to an audio recording of today’s homily, please click below: 

 

The following points were attempted in the homily: 

 

  • Paul in today’s first reading, taken from his introduction to his Second Letter to the Corinthians, stresses that between Christ and us there is meant to be a double sharing. The first sharing is in suffering: “Christ’s sufferings overflow to us,” he says. The second sharing is the encouragement Christ gives us to help bear our sharing in his sufferings for the sake of his body, the Church. St. Paul calls God the Father, “The God of all encouragement,” and says that he “encourages us in every affliction so that we may be able to encourage those who are in any affliction with the encouragement with which we ourselves have been encouraged by God.” So God never leaves us abandoned in our sufferings, but gives us literally his courage, the courage with which he faced his sufferings, so that we may be strong when tempted and then, having triumped with him, because able to encourage others to endure.
  • This is what we see in the life of St. Peter, the Rock on whom Christ built his Church, who is buried just a stone’s throw we are celebrating this Mass. He shared Christ’s suffering. Right after he had declared Jesus to be the Messiah and Son of the Living God, Jesus told him and the other apostles first how he would suffer and be kill and how they, too, would have to pick up their Crosses each day and follow him along that path of blood. That’s precisely what happened to Peter at the end of his life, as Jesus predicted, when he stretched out his hands — a Greek euphemism for crucifixion — and was dragged to a place he didn’t want to go, being crucified upside down in the location from which we’ll be starting our Scavi tour this afternoon. But in all of this he was likewise encouraged by the Lord, who had lifted Peter up to this type of love after Peter had denied the Lord, saying that he would in fact love him with agape and not just philia, the total self-sacrificial type of love instead of merely the love of friends. And Peter went out to encourage others. In his beautiful first letter, he said, “Although now for a little while you may have to suffer through various trials, 7 so that the genuineness of your faith, more precious than gold that is perishable even though tested by fire, may prove to be for praise, glory, and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.”
  • Jesus himself would encourage Peter and all of us through what he taught us in today’s Gospel, which is the Magna Charta of the Christian life. In it Jesus predicts our sharing in his sufferings — “Blessed are you when they insult you and persecute you and utter every kind of evil against you falsely because of me” — but also shares the encouragement, “Rejoice and be glad, for your reward will be great in heaven. Thus they persecuted the prophets who were before you.” Jesus in the Beatitudes shows us how to yoke ourselves to him and receive his encouragement in all we are. As St. John Paul II said on the Mount of the Beatitudes to young people in 2000, Jesus is the face of the beatitudes and its through living the beatitudes we become like him and are opened to receive the strength that comes from communion. But we also have to admit that to live the Beatitudes requires suffering, requires divesting ourselves of worldly goods and worldviews. Whereas the world says that we have to be rich to be happy, Jesus says we need to be poor in spirit and find in God’s kingdom our treasure. The world says we need to be life of the party; Jesus says we need to be so sensitive that we weep over our and others’ spiritual, emotional, physical and moral misfortunes. The world says we need to be strong, to finish fights that others’ start, to teach others lessons that will deter them from ever crossing us or others again, whereas Jesus says we need to be meek, to be a peacemaker. The world says we have to have all our sexual fantasies fulfilled, to look like a million bucks, whereas Jesus says to be happy we need to be pure of heart and see God in others. And the world says we need to be liked and voted most popular and most congeniality; Jesus says, on the other hand, we need to be persecuted. We know that the Way of the Beatitudes is not a popular way, but it is Jesus’ way. It is the way to happiness, to a joy the world can’t give or rob, the joy that Jesus came to give to us and perfect. This is the way St. Peter eventually adopted. This is the way of the saints, who all encourage us by living in this way to believe that it is likewise possible and beautiful for us.
  • The greatest way Christ encourages us and helps us to live by his own standards is from the inside out in the Eucharist. The Eucharist is the means by which we can “taste and see the goodness of the Lord,” which will strengthen us to bear our sufferings like Christ bore his. It’s the way we yoke ourselves to his love as we, united on the yoke of the Cross, discover it to be sweet and light. It’s always moving to me to ponder that St. Peter, around whose tomb we celebrate Mass today, was present at the first Eucharist when Christ gave us his body and blood for the first time. He was the celebrant, no doubt, of many of the Masses of the early Christian community. And it was through this union with Christ in the Church as Body and Bride that we in the Church were encouraged within to become the face of the Mystical Body, the Face of the Beatitudes, in the midst of all our struggles through time. As we prayed in the Psalm. “Blessed is the man who takes refuge” in the Lord. We do that now, just as Peter did, so that we might follow the Lord over the course of the days of our life to where Peter now is interceding for us at the Messiah and Son of God’s eternal right side.

The readings for today’s Mass were: 

Reading 1 2 COR1:1-7

Paul, an Apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God,
and Timothy our brother,
to the Church of God that is at Corinth,
with all the holy ones throughout Achaia:
grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,
the Father of compassion and the God of all encouragement,
who encourages us in our every affliction,
so that we may be able to encourage
those who are in any affliction
with the encouragement with which we ourselves are encouraged by God.
For as Christ’s sufferings overflow to us,
so through Christ does our encouragement also overflow.
If we are afflicted,
it is for your encouragement and salvation;
if we are encouraged,
it is for your encouragement,
which enables you to endure the same sufferings that we suffer.
Our hope for you is firm,
for we know that as you share in the sufferings,
you also share in the encouragement.

Responsorial Psalm PS 34:2-3, 4-5, 6-7, 8-9

R. (9a) Taste and see the goodness of the Lord.
I will bless the LORD at all times;
his praise shall be ever in my mouth.
Let my soul glory in the LORD;
the lowly will hear me and be glad.
R. Taste and see the goodness of the Lord.
Glorify the LORD with me,
let us together extol his name.
I sought the LORD, and he answered me
and delivered me from all my fears.
R. Taste and see the goodness of the Lord.
Look to him that you may be radiant with joy,
and your faces may not blush with shame.
When the poor one called out, the LORD heard,
and from all his distress he saved him.
R. Taste and see the goodness of the Lord.
The angel of the LORD encamps
around those who fear him, and delivers them.
Taste and see how good the LORD is;
blessed the man who takes refuge in him.
R. Taste and see the goodness of the Lord.

Alleluia MT 5:12A

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Rejoice and be glad;
for your reward will be great in heaven.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel MT 5:1-12

When Jesus saw the crowds, he went up the mountain,
and after he had sat down, his disciples came to him.
He began to teach them, saying:“Blessed are the poor in spirit,
for theirs is the Kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are they who mourn,
for they will be comforted.
Blessed are the meek,
for they will inherit the land.
Blessed are they who hunger and thirst for righteousness,
for they will be satisfied.
Blessed are the merciful,
for they will be shown mercy.
Blessed are the clean of heart,
for they will see God.
Blessed are the peacemakers,
for they will be called children of God.
Blessed are they who are persecuted for the sake of righteousness,
for theirs is the Kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are you when they insult you and persecute you
and utter every kind of evil against you falsely because of me.
Rejoice and be glad,
for your reward will be great in heaven.
Thus they persecuted the prophets who were before you.”

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