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Homily (Reflection) for the Twelfth Sunday of the Year, (C) (19th June, 2016) on the Gospel

Zech 12:10-11. 13:1;
Ps 62:2-6.8-9. (R. v. 2);
Gal 3:26-29;
Lk 9:18-24.

Topic: Hidden therefore rejected.

Imagine a teacher telling his/her students how much they will suffer to be successful in a particular field or life in general. No need for a fortune-teller to know that such teacher will be hated so much that many would not even like to meet him/her along the road. And certainly, such teachers earn uncountable however undesirable names.

Jesus taught us about Himself, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father, but by me” (Jn 14:6). The message is very clear. And quite contrary to the order of the day, in today’s gospel He said to everyone,

If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me. For those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake will save it.

Because of the importance, Jesus emphasized, “Whoever comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, yes, and even life itself, cannot be my disciple. Whoever does not carry the cross and follow me cannot be my disciple” (Lk 14:26-27; cf. Matt 10:37-38).

Saint Paul wrote, “...we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance” (Rom 5:3). He admonished Timothy, “Share in suffering as a good soldier of Christ Jesus” (2Tim 2:3).  Again, “always be steady, endure suffering, do the work of an evangelist, fulfil your ministry” (2Tim 4:5). He also asked him to share in the suffering for the gospel, cf. 2Tim 1:8. The disciples rejoiced when they suffered for Christ, cf. Acts 5:41. And Saint Paul saw suffering for the church at Colossi as finishing what remained in Christ's afflictions for His church and rejoiced, cf. Col 1:24. In general, the prophets are good examples of suffering and patience, cf. Jas 5:10.

Jesus while teaching His disciples on their way to Emmaus questioned, “Was it not necessary that the Christ should suffer these things and enter into his glory?” (Lk 24:26). He was made perfect through suffering (cf. Heb 2:10) and “crowned with glory and honour because of the suffering of death”, cf. Heb 2:9. We will certainly be glorified with Christ on one condition, “we suffer with him”, cf. Rom 8:17.

Many things come to mind whenever we come face-to-face with suffering. They include, Why me? Why this load? What is the essence of this suffering? It is too much for me, and so on. Look at this story:

Brenda was almost halfway to the top of the tremendous granite cliff. She was standing on a ledge where she was taking a breather during this, her first rock climb. As she rested there, the safety rope snapped against her eye and knocked out her contact lens. “Great”, she thought. “Here I am on a rock ledge, hundreds of feet from the bottom and hundreds of feet to the top of this cliff, and now my sight is blurry.”

She looked and looked, hoping that somehow it had landed on the ledge. But it just wasn’t there.

She felt the panic rising in her, so she began praying. She prayed for calm, and she prayed that she may find her contact lens.

When she got to the top, a friend examined her eye and her clothing for the lens, but it was not to be found. Although she was calm now that she was at the top, she was saddened because she could not clearly see across the range of mountains. She thought of the bible verse “The eyes of the Lord run to and fro throughout the whole earth.”

She thought, “Lord, You can see all these mountains. You know every stone and leaf, and You know exactly where my contact lens is. Please help me.”

Later, when they had hiked down the trail to the bottom of the cliff they met another party of climber just starting up the face of the cliff. One of them shouted out, “Hey, you guys! Anybody lose a contact lens?”

Well, that would be startling enough, but you know why the climber saw it? An ant was moving slowly across a twig on the face of the rock, carrying it!

The story doesn’t end there. Brenda’s father is a cartoonist. When she told him the incredible story of the ant, the prayer, and the contact lens, he drew a cartoon of an ant lugging that contact lens with the caption, “Lord, I don’t know why You want me to carry this thing. I can’t eat it, and it’s awfully heavy. But if this is what You want me to do, I’ll carry it for You.”[1]

It is impossible to find answers to all the questions that come to mind when suffering or seeing others suffer. But just like this ant, we must follow the example of Jesus who said during His agony, “Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me; yet, not my will but yours be done” (Lk 22:42). Saint James advised those suffering to pray, cf. Jas 5:13. Pray until things change for better. Suffering is not a sign of being in enmity with God, cf. Prov 3:12; Heb 12:6. Do not wander into myths prevalent today all in the name of gospel of Christ, cf. 2Tim 4:4. Fortunately, no matter what one does, all is subjected to suffering, cf. 1Pt 5:9. The only difference is that some will discover the hidden treasure many reject whereas others will go through without getting anything. No one can reject the cross without rejecting Christ nailed on it.

Bible Reading: 1Pt 4:12-19; Matt 10:34-39; Lk 14:25-33; Phil 2:1-11; Rom 8:18-30.

Thought for today: Be wise.

Let us pray: May God help us revalue Christian suffering to see the inherent benefits – Amen.

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[1] Sagayanathan, A. (2009). Launching pad: Stories for Sunday homilies – A, B & C. Bangalore: Asian Trading Corporation, pp. 311-312.

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