Paying Attention to What Jesus is Telling Us, Saturday of the 25th Week in Ordinary Time (I), September 28, 2013

Fr. Roger J. Landry
St. Bernadette Parish, Fall River, MA
Saturday of the 25th Week in Ordinary Time, Year I
Memorial of St. Lorenzo Ruiz and Companions, Japanese Martyrs
September 28, 2013
Zec 2:5-9.14-15, Jer 31, Lk 9:43-45

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


The following points were attempted in the homily:

  •  We finish our week’s worth reflections on the rebuilding of the Temple of Jerusalem and what that signifies for Jesus’ Resurrection and our and the whole Church’s rebuilding of the Temple we are called to be from baptism.
  • Zechariah reminds the Israelites that God is coming to dwell with them and that he will dwell with them as an encircling fire to guard and protect them. The question will be whether they choose to remain within that fire of protection. God is not going to take away their freedom and turn that encircling fire into a prison. We know that over the course of time, they will behave in such a way that they will make choices not consistent with God’s dwelling and once again Jerusalem and the Temple will be destroyed by the Romans. The greatest way we see that many of them brought about this destruction was the way they sought to kill God when he came to dwell among them, how in destroying the Temple he was they were sowing the seeds of their own destruction. When God comes, we can either welcome and embrace him, or ignore and reject him. That’s always the choice.
  • When God ultimately came, he came as the Suffering Servant. Jesus describes in the Gospel that he is going to be betrayed and tells each of us to “Pay attention to what you hear.” He wants us truly to grasp these words as well as the words that the servant is not greater than the Master and if he has suffered, if he has been betrayed, if he has been persecuted, then we will be, too. His presence, however, will accompany us along the Way of the Cross. He will guard us with an encircling fire that will not be able to touch our soul, even if others should torture and kill our bodies — provided that we freely embrace that encircling protection and live within the fire of the love of his grace.
  • Today we celebrate the feast of those who kept the presence of God even in the midst of incredible torture. We celebrate the feast of St. Lawrence Ruiz and his companions, which helps us to call to mind the 605 blesseds and saints from among the 35,000 Japanese Marytrs (from only 300,000 Christians) who perished in Japan between 1597-1639. They paid attention to what they heard and they were ready for martyrdom. Kids were taught in making the sign of the Cross to embrace God Father, Son and Holy as well as the Cross that they might give us as the immediate way to enter into their life. When they came to Mass, they grasped that Christ was giving his body and blood for them and they might in turn be called to give their body and blood for him in return. When they prayed the Rosary, they knew that in order to live the Glorious Mysteries, they first needed prayerfully to enter into the Sorrowful Mysteries. The preparation extended to practical instruction as well. Mothers trained their kids how to be faithful at the supreme hour. They taught them how to uncover their necks, fold their hands and look to heaven, as well as what to pray when their own hour came. They breast-fed them the stories of the heroic deaths of the apostles, the early Christian martyrs, and the Japanese martyrs before of them, and inspired them to strive for similar greatness. They paid attention to what they heard and they knew that Jesus was with them at that time. They were able to remain faithful at the time of martyrdom because they had been faithful in so many little things along the way and never pretended that such an end was not a part of the faith they signed up for.
  • Let us ask the Lord through their intercession to pay attention to what Jesus tells us, to recognize his presence among us, to live within the protective encircling fire of his love, and to give our lives to him each day, especially here at Mass as he gives his life to and for us, so that if the supreme sacrifice is ever asked of us it will merely be a dramatic exclamation point for a lifetime of similar yeses.

The readings for today’s Mass were: 

Reading 1
ZEC 2:5-9, 14-15A

I, Zechariah, raised my eyes and looked:
there was a man with a measuring line in his hand.
I asked, “Where are you going?”
He answered, “To measure Jerusalem,
to see how great is its width and how great its length.”Then the angel who spoke with me advanced,
and another angel came out to meet him and said to him,
“Run, tell this to that young man:
People will live in Jerusalem as though in open country,
because of the multitude of men and beasts in her midst.
But I will be for her an encircling wall of fire, says the LORD,
and I will be the glory in her midst.”Sing and rejoice, O daughter Zion!
See, I am coming to dwell among you, says the LORD.
Many nations shall join themselves to the LORD on that day,
and they shall be his people and he will dwell among you.

Responsorial Psalm
JER 31:10, 11-12AB, 13

R. (see 10d) The Lord will guard us as a shepherd guards his flock.
Hear the word of the LORD, O nations,
proclaim it on distant isles, and say:
He who scattered Israel, now gathers them together,
he guards them as a shepherd guards his flock.
R. The Lord will guard us as a shepherd guards his flock.
The LORD shall ransom Jacob,
he shall redeem him from the hand of his conqueror.
Shouting, they shall mount the heights of Zion,
they shall come streaming to the LORD’s blessings.
R. The Lord will guard us as a shepherd guards his flock.
Then the virgins shall make merry and dance,
and young men and old as well.
I will turn their mourning into joy,
I will console and gladden them after their sorrows.
R. The Lord will guard us as a shepherd guards his flock.

LK 9:43B-45

While they were all amazed at his every deed,
Jesus said to his disciples,
“Pay attention to what I am telling you.
The Son of Man is to be handed over to men.”
But they did not understand this saying;
its meaning was hidden from them
so that they should not understand it,
and they were afraid to ask him about this saying.