2016-06-19, 12th C, Take Up Your Cross

Homily 06-19-16
Twelfth Sunday Ordinary Time, Cycle C
Zec 12:10-11; 13:1; Ps 63:2, 3-4, 5-6, 8-9; Gal 3:26-29; Lk 9:18-24

(Scriptures included after homily)

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“Who do the crowds say that I am?”

If we were to Google: “Jesus,” the first thing we might notice is that there are 393-million hits.  That’s more hits than George Washington, John Lennon, Prince, and even Elvis.  And, of course, on the very top of that list-of-hits, is Wikipedia.

Now, some people may swear by Wikipedia and others at it.  But, regardless of our preferences, Wikipedia has become a ‘standard resource’ for quick, brief information on just about any topic or person.  And it really is up to us to discern the “truth” in that information, based on other resources, as well.

But there was something very interesting that I discovered about Wikipedia’s description of Jesus.  And it helps us to answer that question of:  “Who do the crowds say that Jesus is” in today’s world.

Now, just to put this all in perspective, the first thing that you’ll notice about any Wikipedia biography is the date of the person’s birth and death.
– George Washington: 1732 to 1799
– Elvis Presley: 1935 to 1977
– Jesus Christ: 4 BC to 33 AD (roughly)
So, according to Wikipedia, Jesus DID have a historical birth and death.

Then, after their lifespan dates, Wikipedia begins it’s narrative on the person.
– George Washington was the first president.
– John Lennon was an English singer/songwriter.
– Prince Rogers Nelson was an American singer.

But when we get to Jesus, the narrative begins just a little differently.  Wikipedia says, “Jesus Christ IS . . . “  And for me, nothing that was said, after those first three words, really mattered in the least.

Wikipedia asserted that: Jesus IS, not “WAS,” like Washington, or Presley, or Lennon.  And even though Jesus had birth and death dates, Wikipedia still said that . . . Jesus IS!

It’s funny, because if someone were to ask us to describe Jesus to them,  would we begin our description with “Jesus WAS,” or with “Jesus IS?”  And the answer to that question, will convey volumes about our own relationship with Jesus.

Is our Jesus someone we’ve read about in a book?

Is He someone we debate about in our Bible Study Group?

Or is Jesus our driving companion, on the way home from a tough day at work or at school, helping us to “take up that cross,” instead of using it to beat down someone else, on the road or at home?

Is our Jesus someone we give thanks to when we get that promotion or see our name in print?  Or is He just the one we curse out when something doesn’t go our way?

You see brothers and sisters, sometimes in order to gain true Life, we have to let go of what we might think, Life is all about, US!  And “taking up our cross” doesn’t mean that we run to the store, and buy some 2 x 6’s to heave upon our own shoulders.  The world can do that – to us, all by itself!

But it does mean, for example, that instead of vindictively dragging that evil sinner, who has hurt us, down into the fires of hell, along with ourselves, we let go of all that hatred and let God take care of it.

This is what we mean by mercy.

Mercy is our un-revenged acceptance of God’s justice: because deep down within us, there is this unquenchable thirst for God, this thirst for Love, and, because that is exactly what Jesus did for us.

And in our mercy, what we’ll discover is true Freedom.
What we’ll discover is true Life!

And yet, we still might argue, “Yeah, but Jesus died.  And it was a pretty horrible death at that.

EXCEPT . . .

Except, even Wikipedia knows, that “Jesus IS,” and so will WE BE!

There is no more grief and no more mourning.
There is no more separation, because WE ARE:

– neither Male, nor Female,
– neither Republican, nor Democrat,
– neither Unemployed, nor independently Wealthy,
– neither American, nor African, because –

IN our baptism, we are all One – in Christ Jesus.

We are One, in God’s Spirit of Grace.
We are One in the cleansing Fountain of Life.
We are One in God’s Love and Mercy.

And we are One in the Blessed Sacrament of our union with Jesus:
our Savior, and our Brother, and our closest Companion . . .

“But who do YOU say that I am?”

jmp 06-19-16

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Scripture Readings for the Mass of 06-19-16
Twelfth Sunday of Ordinary Time, C

First Reading:  Zec 12:10-11; 13:1

Thus says the LORD: I will pour out on the house of David and on the inhabitants of Jerusalem a spirit of grace and petition; and they shall look on him whom they have pierced, and they shall mourn for him as one mourns for an only son, and they shall grieve over him as one grieves over a firstborn.

On that day the mourning in Jerusalem shall be as great as the mourning of Hadadrimmon in the plain of Megiddo.

On that day there shall be open to the house of David and to the inhabitants of Jerusalem, a fountain to purify from sin and uncleanness.

Responsorial Psalm:  Ps 63:2, 3-4, 5-6, 8-9

R. My soul is thirsting for you, O Lord my God.
O God, you are my God whom I seek; for you my flesh pines and my soul thirsts like the earth, parched, lifeless and without water.
R. My soul is thirsting for you, O Lord my God.
Thus have I gazed toward you in the sanctuary to see your power and your glory, For your kindness is a greater good than life; my lips shall glorify you.
R. My soul is thirsting for you, O Lord my God.
Thus will I bless you while I live; lifting up my hands, I will call upon your name. As with the riches of a banquet shall my soul be satisfied, and with exultant lips my mouth shall praise you.
R. My soul is thirsting for you, O Lord my God.
You are my help, and in the shadow of your wings I shout for joy. My soul clings fast to you; your right hand upholds me.
R. My soul is thirsting for you, O Lord my God.

Second Reading:  Gal 3:26-29

Brothers and sisters: Through faith you are all children of God in Christ Jesus.  For all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free person, there is not male and female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.  And if you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s children, heirs according to the promise.

Gospel:  Lk 9:18-24

Once when Jesus was praying by himself, and the disciples were with him, he asked them, “Who do the crowds say that I am?”

They said in reply, “John the Baptist; others, Elijah; still others, ‘One of the ancient prophets has arisen.’”

Then he said to them, “But who do you say that I am?”

Peter said in reply, “The Christ of God.”

He rebuked them and directed them not to tell this to anyone. He said, “The Son of Man must suffer greatly and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests, and the scribes, and be killed and on the third day be raised.”

Then he said to all, “If anyone wishes to come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it.

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