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3rd Sunday in Ordinary Time
3rd Sunday in Ordinary Time
Response to the suffering
This person will be suffering and in pain, they can't care for themselves, they are helpless, their situation will be undignified, humiliating, it will be so awful that they will feel completely abandoned by everyone who loves them even by God and in the end they will die anyway.
The modern response to that situation is often, they should be allowed to die, or enabled to end their lives. Interestingly it would be the response of the Romans two thousand years ago. Roman senators and philosophers and opinion makers would accept that the only response to such a situation, the noble response, the right response would be suicide. Such a life would be better ended.
So the problem for us now is similar to that of St Paul we must preach Christ crucified, we must preach a person In suffering and in pain, who can't care for himself, who is helpless, he lacks dignity, he is humiliated his situation is so awful that he feels completely abandoned by everyone who loves him even by God and in the end he dies anyway. We must preach Christ crucified. Risen yes, but as Paul says again and again - Christ crucified. The resurrection doesn't mean the crucifixion is over now; it was a blip, a mistake, now it's over. The resurrection means the crucifixion was vital, the one who is risen is the crucified one, the resurrection means we must recognise the fundamental importance of the crucifixion, without it there could have been no resurrection. When you read St Paul's letters you notice how rarely he speaks of the resurrection, that is taken for granted, but it is the cross and the salvation it brings, that he concentrates on.
How can we proclaim the Cross
Once you start trying to explain why Jesus' death for us, his sacrifice, his suffering is at the heart of our faith, we run the danger of submitting this great act of love to, as St Paul says, a philosophy that cannot express it.
But the word of God today gives us three ways that, without a clever philosophy or show of learning we can proclaim the cross.
First by our joy, a joy born of the knowledge that whatever happens to us, in sickness and in health, in riches in poverty, no matter how much we fail or sin, Jesus did this out of love for us. He died and so we are free, and for eternity that can never be taken from us. We have seen the light, even in great shadow we see the light and that gives us a joy which speaks more powerfully to others than words. We could call it hope.
The second is unity, not just in our families and in the parish and in the church, but a unity with everyone. Christ died out of love for every human being. When we see a fellow human suffering we see not a problem or an embarrassment we see our saviour suffering and we love them and care for them. When others see the care we have they recognise more clearly than if we spoke - the love that is at the heart of the cross. This is Charity.
Finally with hope and charity goes faith. Faith, our response to the love that Jesus reveals. Like the Apostles in different ways, we leave everything and follow him. That may be abandoning money and success for the sake of children, it may be abandoning sin for the sake of truth, it may abandoning our life for the sake of others. But again our faith, our response to Divine love will speak of that love far more eloquently than words.
Words are important. God is reasonable, what he reveals is reasonable, we can speak of God and of Gods actions, but first must come our deeds, our hope, love and faith. Our joy, our love of others, and our generosity in responding to God's call. These will speak of the cross better than words.