Weekly Homily from Fr Jim Hogan, 24th Sunday in Ordinary Time, September 13, 2015

So…..this week it is ME that is not on top of it.  Sorry for the late posting.  I have no excuse except to say I am forgetful!….Reyanna

•Isaiah 50:5-9a • James 2:14-18 • Mark 8:27-35•

Weekly Scripture Readings:24th Sunday in Ordinary Time

The gospel proclaimed among us last Sunday was about a deaf man. I recall him today
because many of our peers are deaf.  Our lectionary omits another healing event – that of a
blind man whose sight was restored.  I mention it today because many of our peers are blind.  Both stories prompt me to think of the U.S. Congress and the pending agreement with Iran.

With that in mind let’s consider today’s gospel text — the middle of Mark’s gospel. According to Mark, his close companions have been living with and listening to Jesus for sometime. They seem caught off-guard when Jesus – “the Son of Man” asks, “who do you say I am?”  Peter responds on behalf of his companions.  None of them have comprehended the Christ Mystery.  They still haven’t had the experiences they need to understand their mentor and model. The experiences they need are still a long way in the future.

If anyone would come after me, s/he must deny self, take up his/her cross, and follow me.”  “Denying self” and “taking up my cross” are the defining characteristics of following Jesus.

Perhaps this is the most misunderstood text in the Christian bible.  So many stitll believe
“taking up my cross” means stoically accepting the difficulties of life.  “My arthritis is my cross to bear.” “My mother-in-law is my cross to bear.” “My physical suffering, my cancer, my chemotherapy is my cross to bear.”  Such acceptance is highly commendable.  However Mark’s Jesus is not calling us to such stoical acceptance even though most folks still misuse this text in that way.

Doing so allows us to dodge the real implications of this text. .  “If anyone would come after me, s/he must deny self, take up his/her cross, and follow me.”  To understand what Jesus meant with these words, examine his life.  He was a nonviolent person who responded to violence with nonviolent love.  Regardless of the consequences he responded to violence with nonviolent love. Nonviolent love requires letting go of — “denying self.”

That is the cross of which he speaks – nonviolent love regardless of the consequences!!  His admonition, “follow me” means responding to violence with nonviolent love.  That is a
challenge!  No wonder most of us rather think he means stoically accepting “my arthritis” or “my mother-in-law” or “my chemotherapy” as my cross.

We as Church still do not know “the Son of Man!”  I think that is why most folks and most
Catholic priests shy away from his question, “who do you say I am.”

For too long we have been satisfied with the wonderful pious titles we have given him.  This text calls us to know and understand the meaning of his life and teaching.  Only then will we understand what “take up your cross, and follow me” means.

The Secular Age in which we live makes it difficult to believe in God or to be a person of faith, a gospel person. Yet that is what we are!

As a nation we have access to computers, I-pads, I-phones, and the electronic WEB that
connects us around the world.  In spite of all this wonderful hi-tech gadgetry, we as a nation and world community remain deaf and blind.  We expect Iran to disarm.  I hope you realize the significance of the pending nuclear agreement with Iran.  It is an enormous accomplishment.  Yet at the same time we remain deaf and blind. We remain incapable of, or unwilling to disarm ourselves, set aside our nukes and Trident missiles.

Jesus, “The Son of Man,” stands among us offering hope in the possibilities of tomorrow. He entrusts that task to us.  “Take up your cross, and follow me.”  Imitate him.  Trust in God.  In several days Congress will vote on our future with Iran.  I urge you to swamp our Senators and Representative with phone calls and make it clear to them that you expect them to approve the pending agreement with Iran.  We who are church have been called and sent to offer hope in the possibilities of tomorrow. “Take up your cross, and follow me.

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