Sunday, June 23, 2013

Know and Follow

Readings for Sunday, June 23/ 12th Sunday in Ordinary Time:
Zechariah 12:10-11; 13:1
Psalm 63:2-6, 8-9
Galatians 3:26-29
Luke 9:18-24

“Who do others say that I am?”

It’s interesting to note that when Our Lord asks this question to His disciples and they respond with ‘John the Baptist, Elijah, or another ancient prophet’ He doesn’t even respond. This is because Christ doesn’t concern Himself with what others think because He knows the truth. Rather He uses that question as an introduction to the more important question, “Who do you say that I am?”

To understand why it’s so important we need to understand a bit more about Luke’s Gospel as a whole. There comes a point in Luke’s Gospel when Jesus ‘sets His eyes toward Jerusalem’ and from that point on everything is focused on the coming Passion of the Lord. This question comes in that context, so it is ultimately to see if the disciples had really come to know Him or not; was it all in vain or had they grasped what He tried to teach them? You can imagine the joy of His heart when Peter says, “You are the Christ, the Son of God.” They do know! What joy to know that even if the world around them didn’t yet know, the Apostles would soon be able to tell them.

My brothers and sisters, today the Lord asks the same question of us. Do we know the Lord really? The truth is that Satan himself knows the Catechism and Scriptures better than all of us put together. He just doesn’t believe or follow. It doesn’t matter how much we know about Jesus from what others say, but rather about what we know for ourselves. To His question we should be able to respond: Lord, I know you are the Christ! I have heard you speak as I prayed with Your word in the Scriptures. I have known Your presence in the celebration of the Sacraments. And I have tried to love you in my brothers and sisters around me.

But as the Lord reminds us in the Gospel, goal is not just knowing Him but also picking up our cross daily and following after Him. And you know as well as I that none of needs to go looking for crosses. We all have the weight of crosses from family life, work or school, and other things to suffer in this life. But as Catholics we especially have no need of seeking out crosses because they are coming to us and they are coming quickly. It’s often been said, and not without truth, that the last acceptable prejudice in America in the Church. You can say anything in the world about the Church, her clergy, and her members and it’s acceptable. But say it about anyone else and there’s a small riot at hand. Simply being Catholic means that cross these days. We may not be experiencing it so much locally right now, but I think we soon will. We have only to look at our media and government leadership. Coming into full force in just a month is the HHS Mandate which is disguised as ‘healthcare’ but is equally effective as a means to persecuting the Church by trying to force us to abandon the truth of the Gospel or pay a high fine. To that we have the ‘gay agenda’, militant atheism, and our President who does everything in his power to degrade and question that Church when he gets the chance. Again, we don’t have to go looking for crosses – we just have to be Catholic. I can promise you that if we keep strong on our Catholic faith we will be called bigots, homophobes, racists – and those are just the acceptable things you can say in Church.

As those things happen, we will indeed be following after Our Lord as He endured much the same. And to help us in those times let us as the prayers of the Apostles. In the scriptures we hear that when they went out to preach Christ to the people they were brought in by the authorities and beaten severely then told not to preach anymore the Gospel of Christ. Did they shrink back and apologize? No! They left rejoicing that they were worthy of suffering for the name of Jesus and went back out into the city to continue preaching.

As we come to celebrate the Eucharist once more, let us pray that we might first come to know Jesus more deeply this day and then have the grace to pick up our daily cross and follow after Him, not moping but with rejoicing at the gift of our faith. That while we might have to suffer here for a time, we can look forward to that eternal inheritance about which St. Paul reminds us today – the joy of eternally beholding God’s face.