Suffering features in today’s reading. The first, a prophecy about Christ, says: “by his suffering shall my servant justify many”. And in the gospel He tells the power-hungry apostles they must embrace the cross. Lets face our crosses and humbly serve God and others so as to help Him redeem a fallen world..
Recently we celebrated the Triumph of the Cross. Our readings today show how that triumph came about. “Can you drink the cup that I must drink”, he says to apostles who craved worldly power and glory. That cup was the scriptural one depicted by Isaiah: “by his suffering shall my servant justify many”. And thats the central paradox of our faith, Christ became King through the cross’s counterwitness to a corrupt world of power politics. He became the perfect image of God’s gentle being when he mounted a blood-soaked tree of total giving love, rejecting a false throne of ruthless power won by violence and oppression of humanity. The apostles, all for power and wealth, found this shocking. Like Satan in the desert, they wanted Christ to be a Hitler-like Messiah. They wanted to bask in ill-gotten power and riches at his side. Christ showed them that was Satan’s and the world’s way. God’s son, He came not to be served but to serve and to give his life as a ransom for all. Later they saw the wisdom of this.
So must we. Like Christ we must choose to be suffering servants of God and others in love, not ruthless self-servors. Christ shed his last drop of blood in love, and passed the baton to us: “love one another as I have loved you”. He doesn’t just tell us to love, he shows us what real love is by giving everything, even his soul for us. Yet the church and Christians through the ages have more often followed Satan’s way of ruthless self-serving pride, power and riches, trampling on all in their path. Present Church scandals show how the church needed in this age to be toppled from such a throne of self-serving wealth and power.
For in every age the chief temptation the church and all of us face is to reject the cross of love and service for ruthless gain. Look at the many who walk away from the challenge of faith today to become slaves of the world and money. Today too the world would persuade us to avoid the holy crosses of moral living, of priestly celibacy, of religious life’s poverty and obedience, of humble lay service in the Church community, of suffering marriage faithfulness, of self-giving charity. Instead our world tells us to live it up, get as much as we can at whatever cost, be assertive, wholly self-serving. Soul-destroying illusions. For ruthless pursuit of possessions, sex, and self-satisfaction, though it bring temporary pleasure, finally turns to dust and ashes in our hands. As one one holy person put it, if we choose the worldly way in the long run we may be left with just hardened hearts and an empty soul for all eternity.
Christ on the cross tells us to follow the more satisfying long-term way of self-giving love; the way of suffering faithfulness to God and the church; the way of sacrifice. Sadly even such a simple sacrifice as getting up on Sunday to go to mass seems too much for many now. Yet only in such simple giving is enduring happiness found. Jesus, Lord of love on Calvary, is our model. Serving him and all that’s just, we’ll make a difference by our lives and be raised to glory at last. For the ruthless values of this world of which Satan is lord turn to ashes at last and leave us empty before eternity, but Christ on the cross is lord of life, love, truth, and beauty both for happiness this life and forever and ever, amen. So as suffering servants of God, others and the church, to redeem a ruthless self-serving world, lets profess our faith proudly.
Prayers of the faithful
As God’s own called to love Christ and others faithfully despite and through the crosses this entails, we pray for what we need.
For our Holy Father the Pope, the bishops and all leaders of the church, that they may lead the flock with humility and be examples of suffering charity and faithful loving service…
For all leaders and authorities in our society that they may carry out their roles with a true sense of love, integrity and responsibility for the welfare of all the people they serve.
For youth, may they humbly serve God, others and the church in love, and so transform the world into Christ’s just kingdom..
For ourselves that we may grow in that deep love of God through every suffering and trial, and truly love and humbly serve those around us and in our homes, especially our children..
We now pray in silence for our own special intentions……
For the young, the weak, the vulnerable and the sick in our society, that through our care they may experience the love of God the Father, the Holy Spirit and Christ the lord of all..
For the dead, especially those of our parish family who have died recently..
We pray for these spiritual and temporal needs through Christ whose wounds pleads for us forever before the Father, amen.
Our call to redeem the world through imitating Christ’s suffering is reflected in the life of Edel Quinn. She suffered all her life from severe ill-health but she did not let that prevent her from travelling to Africa to spread the Legion of Mary. Indeed, she died young, worn out by this work and travel for Christ. But in that suffering service she gained so much. As she said herself, “my greatest joy in life is to able to suffer for Christ”. Lets pray that we’ll be as generous in his service..Hail Mary.