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Homily for 22nd Sunday Ordinary Time, Year A, 2023 - Deacon Jim Curtain

What do we expect from God?

Why do bad things happen to good people?

How long does it take to follow Jesus?

What is going on in your life right now? Are you hopeful or discouraged? Is life generally good, or do you wonder what further disaster lies around the corner?

Jeremiah - what else is going to happen to me?

Peter - we’re going to run the Romans and the collaborators out of town, aren’t we?

God knows more than we do.

What does the cross of Christ mean for you and me, now?

When a couple has a child with a disability, the divorce rate doubles.

Biblical hope ‘A life-shaping, joyful certainty.’

Take up your cross and follow me… I suppose there may be some adults here in this church who have never had to take up a cross, or maybe I should say ‘not yet’ rather than ‘never’. Last week Fr Jerome spoke of his friend suddenly struck down with serious disease. That’s one type of cross for that man, and for his family. There are those who suffer the cross of unemployment, or addictions, or marriage or relationship breakdowns. Don’t worry, I’m not going to give you an exhaustive list of everything that can go wrong in life. It is true however that every adult I’ve ever met has a wound, a cross, somewhere in their life.

The danger of our wounds is that we let them define us. We decide that our disability, or our poor mental or physical health, or the abuse we suffered, whatever the cross is, determines who we are and how we live. We stay as victims all our life. In counselling I’ve worked with people affected by crosses including family breakdown, by workplace bullying, by sexual abuse. The challenge for them is to come to a place where they see themselves as survivors rather than as victims.

Now this is not easy. The wounds may be very deep, but for people of Christian faith we can look to the cross. Our Lord knew that the path he was following would result in crucifixion. He was confronting powerful people, the vicious Roman occupiers, the corrupt religious establishment. If they thought he was a threat to their power, they would have him tortured to death.

And they did.

And on the cross he went all the way to despair.

But we know that death and despair in the end were defeated. We know that Jesus went from victim to glorious survivor. This is what can give us hope, hope that wounds can be transfigured, that whatever crosses we bear we will have the risen Lord, the victim who saves, with us.

This is our faith, but there are two things we must remember.

The first is that this is not easy, or quick. People may bear their cross for years on end, and even when they have survived the wound, the scab can be broken and the pain renewed.

The second thing to remember is that Jesus was helped to carry his cross. Simon of Cyrene couldn’t stop the crucifixion, but he was called on to help Our Lord with the cross. Part of our baptismal vocation as Christians is to bring the love of God into the lives of others. That’s our common priesthood, and we can live that by the work of charity, by aiding others in their journey.

As Christians we are invited to live in hope. Hope is not a fantasy that life will be easy and all our problems solved, that there will be no cross, no wounds. Christian hope is a life-shaping , joyful certainty that whatever crosses we carry, whatever wounds we bear, we are called to share the life of the resurrected Christ, wounds and all.



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