Fr. Roger J. Landry
St. Bernadette Parish, Fall River, MA
Monday of the 23rd Week of Ordinary Time, Year I
Memorial of St. Peter Claver
September 9, 2013
Col 1:24-2:3, Ps 62, Lk 6:6-11
To listen to an audio recording of this homily, please click below:
The following points were attempted in this homily:
- Yesterday Jesus told us that it’s impossible to be his disciple without picking up the Cross each day to follow him. Today we see three illustrations of that Cross.
- The first is in the Gospel, where Jesus suffers for doing good, for giving witness to the true meaning of the Sabbath. The Jews had totally misunderstood the meaning of the Sabbath, which was to restore us, to liberate us from self-imposed slavery. The Jews thought that the prohibition against servile work meant that Jews couldn’t even morally do acts of love. Jesus asked the rather absurd question as to whether God would be pleased or displeased if people did good on the Sabbath rather than evil, to save life rather than to destroy it. The truth is that the Pharisees, on the Sabbath, were trying to entrap Jesus, to do evil, to plot to destroy his life, but they thought that that was somehow kosher while Jesus’ healing the withered hand of a man was somehow what God wanted to prevent. Nevertheless, Jesus was willing to embrace the Cross, the sufferings, in order to restore this man and to restore us all to health.
- We see the second application in St. Paul’s letter to the Colossians. He rejoiced, he said, in his sufferings because he was making up what was lacking in his own flesh of the sufferings of Christ. This is a much misinterpreted passage because the translations aren’t accurate. Christ’s sufferings aren’t lacking, but our participation in them is. Our suffering, however, helps us to enter into Christ’s sufferings, and this is part of our own restoration. The great mystery hidden for centuries, St. Paul says, is “Christ in you, the hope of glory.” Christ restores us from within, seeks to unite us totally to his Passion, but we need to allow this hope of glory to penetrate within the occasional darkness of suffering.
- The third application is in the life of St. Peter Claver, the great Spanish Jesuit missionary who ministered to the slaves in Cartagena, Colombia, for 40 years. There were multiple crosses and sufferings involved in this work — going thousands of miles away from home, entering into and sharing the misery of the slaves, suffering the misunderstandings of so many civil leaders and even some of his fellow religious, but none of this stopped him. He baptized over 300,000 and continued to sacrifice himself for their good, any way he could. At the very end of his life, he suffered for four years physically and through the neglect of those who should have taken care of him, but in all of this he rejoiced likewise in his own sufferings to make up what was lacking in his flesh of his incorporation into Jesus’ saving passion. He received the strength to bear his Cross at every Eucharist, as he received the mystery from from all ages, Christ within him, the hope of glory. Let us receive now that same mystery of faith.
The readings for today’s Mass were:
I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake,
and in my flesh I am filling up
what is lacking in the afflictions of Christ
on behalf of his Body, which is the Church,
of which I am a minister
in accordance with God’s stewardship given to me
to bring to completion for you the word of God,
the mystery hidden from ages and from generations past.
But now it has been manifested to his holy ones,
to whom God chose to make known the riches of the glory
of this mystery among the Gentiles;
it is Christ in you, the hope for glory.
It is he whom we proclaim,
admonishing everyone and teaching everyone with all wisdom,
that we may present everyone perfect in Christ.
For this I labor and struggle,
in accord with the exercise of his power working within me.For I want you to know how great a struggle I am having for you
and for those in Laodicea
and all who have not seen me face to face,
that their hearts may be encouraged
as they are brought together in love,
to have all the richness of assured understanding,
for the knowledge of the mystery of God, Christ,
in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.
Responsorial PsalmPS 62:6-7, 9
Only in God be at rest, my soul,
for from him comes my hope.
He only is my rock and my salvation,
my stronghold; I shall not be disturbed.
R. In God is my safety and my glory.
Trust in him at all times, O my people!
Pour out your hearts before him;
God is our refuge!
R. In God is my safety and my glory.
and there was a man there whose right hand was withered.
The scribes and the Pharisees watched him closely
to see if he would cure on the sabbath
so that they might discover a reason to accuse him.
But he realized their intentions
and said to the man with the withered hand,
“Come up and stand before us.”
And he rose and stood there.
Then Jesus said to them,
“I ask you, is it lawful to do good on the sabbath
rather than to do evil,
to save life rather than to destroy it?”
Looking around at them all, he then said to him,
“Stretch out your hand.”
He did so and his hand was restored.
But they became enraged
and discussed together what they might do to Jesus.