for Sunday, June 19, 2016
Let us lose our lives for the sake of Jesus Christ! This is the only way to live forever and yet we often avoid it because it will involve suffering on our part. Most of us don't like suffering and so in avoiding suffering we often avoid growth in Christ Jesus.
The first reading today is from the Prophet Zechariah. This reading seems to speak so directly to the sufferings of Jesus that it takes tremendous effort to remind ourselves that it is a prophecy made some centuries before the time of Jesus. It is by looking deeply enough into the humanity of others and at the human condition that we come to recognize that the author of this reading was able to recognize a role for suffering in saving the lives of others. This author was able to see that the unmerited sufferings of a good man are a form of salvation for others. When Jesus comes and fulfills this prophecy, we are able to see this meaning ina new way and recognize infinite sufferings merits infinite salvation.
The second reading today is from the Letter to the Galatians. Is a challenge to belong completely to Christ Jesus. If we have put on Christ, then we become heirs to the promise. And what promise? The promise of God's unconditional love and God's abiding presence with us.
The Gospel of Luke today returns to suffering once more. The Son of Man had to die and we also must die. This is a strong invitation to accept and even embrace suffering for the Kingdom of God. The followers of Jesus did not want Him to suffer and Jesus Himself would have gone without suffering—according to his prayer in Gethsemani—except that the Father asked Jesus to undergo suffering for our sake. We do not and cannot completely understand that mystery We do not and often cannot understand why we ourselves must suffer for the Kingdom.
We must be honest: most of us do not want to suffer. Yet, equally we accept that we must suffer when we love others. The only way to truly love others is to be willing to suffer for them. Thus we are invited by Jesus to take up our cross now and follow Him. Jesus even tells His own followers that He will be killed. We can also assure one another that if we truly follow Jesus we will suffer and may even die. If our life has no suffering, then something is wrong.
My sisters and brothers, we come together seeking to follow Jesus more faithfully. Let us encourage one another to take up the cross today. If we died with Him we shall live with Him. To Him be glory and honor forever. Amen.
Readings of the day:
First Reading: Zechariah 12.10-11
Second Reading: Galatians 3.26-29
Gospel: Luke 9.18-24
Reflections are available for the following Sundays: