September 10th Twenty-Third Sunday of Ordinary Time C

Introduction

“Anyone who does not carry his cross and come after me cannot be my disciple”. Scripture asks us to bear unavoidable crosses for Christ and the world’s salvation, especially those that stem from keeping the faith, despite opposition, and giving to the poor. Lets confess ways worldliness hinder us in such service.

Homily

You may know of Padre Pio, the Italian mystic who is said to have borne the wounds of Christ in his body. We’re not required to believe such things. But many feasts and scriptures remind us of the wisdom of the cross in Christian life. As Christ says in the Gospel: “take up your cross daily and follow me”. At this time we’ve the feasts of the Sorrows of Mary, the Triumph of the Cross, and Padre Pio. I’ve no particular devotion to him and some object to him being made a saint, saying he was a pius fraud. But in doing so they show that they haven’t read the Gospel or taken to heart Christ’s words “take up your cross and follow me”. For Pio’s whole life centered on suffering with Christ for the world’s salvation; that why he’s a saint, not wonders or stigmatas.

Indeed, as one person said, Padre Pio suffered during each holy mass as much as any person could suffer in a day. For from his youth he was dogged with ill-health; it almost prevented him from being ordained. But he offered up this suffering and turned it to gold. That and his intense love of the Eucharist and the sacrament of reconciliation were his paths to sainthood. His devout mass would last two hours. Thousands flocked to be present at it, and millions came to a confessional where he often spent seven hours a day despite his ill health. In all this he made a vital Christian point. Suffering is part of the human condition but its not necessarily negative. Unavoidable suffering joined to Christ’s can enrich the world immeasurably in a mysterious way.

One biographer wrote of Pio: “He lived in all its depth his mission of a crucified one with Christ, a martyr of the church who intercedes on behalf of all the faithful before the throne of God”. Lets ask him to intercede for us and for young people in particular who spurn the Lord’s arms and his cross. Let that prayer be strengthened by our sufferings, small or great, offered up with Christ’s. Like Padre Pio lets do so especially at the mass, which is the saving power of Christ’s cross made present for us, with all its merits. As Pio says in his journals: “we can unite our sufferings to Christ’s and so add to the saving efficacy of this great sacrament in some way”. This is very scriptural. Paul says the same, I make up in my body’s sufferings with Christ, for the salvation of the world.

The surest sign of human nobility is the capacity to enduring suffering, even death, for the loved one. Christ showed that total love on the cross to the last drop of blood. So did Padre Pio at each mass. “Suffering is my daily bread” he used to say. That’s why he’s a great saint not any supposed miracles he did or his capacity for bilocation. May we too appreciate how much Christ suffered for us and not be afraid to carry our cross with him. We need not seek suffering. The world will provide plenty. But such suffering can have a negative or positive effect. It can make us bitter or deepen our soul. As the poet Keats says life’s sufferings makes this a vale of soul-making. Let us ask for the grace to be Gods light to the world in suffering love . For the vain pride and pleasures of this world fade to dust at last, but the wisdom that lasts is that of suffering love and service like Christ, who is Lord of love, peace and our happiness for this world and forever and ever, amen.

So praying for ourselves and dear ones, that all may come to the Lord and find riches even in suffering, lets profess our faith..

Prayers of the faithful

As the people of God lets pray for the things that we need..

For church leaders throughout the world that they may bravely preach the gospel of the cross for the salvation of the world..

For youth, may they not be afraid to suffer in the heroic service of Christ and others, especially the poor and vulnerable..

For our civil leaders that they may rule us with justice, integrity, and with special concern for those in need..

For ourselves and the intentions that are in our hearts lets pray silently, especially for the grace and strength to carry our unavoidable crosses in following our Lord..

For the sick in need of mental or spiritual healing that they may find it through prayer and our help..

For the dead, that their trials and sufferings over, they may come to heavenly happiness with the help of our prayers..

And we ask all these prayers through Christ whose wounds intercede for us forever before the Father in heaven, amen.

Reflection

We all know the story of Bernadette. She saw our Lady and became a great sign of healing to the world. In her later life in a convent bishops and cardinals came to ask her advice. What people don’t realize, however, is that she carried her cross with Christ to the end. She had a cancer in her leg and though doctors did everything they could for her, it was incurable. Yet she bore it gladly with Christ and Mary for the healing of the world. As she said: “I am as happy on my bed of pain with a crucifix as a queen on her throne”. At her death she reached out to someone at the foot of her bed and her face lit up. Lets pray for similar courage and faith before unavoidable suffering..Hail Mary

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