12th Sunday of Ordinary Time, AD 1998

Readings: Zechariah 12:10-11 -- Psalm 63 -- Galatians 3:26-29 -- Luke 9:18-24

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Who is this Jesus who comes to us? Is he a prophet? A great religious leader? He is these things, but he is more -- he is the Messiah of God, foretold from ancient times, born to set an example, to lead, to suffer, to question established authority, to die and then to rise again.

Paul reminds us that we are sons and daughters of God because of our faith in Christ Jesus. Because of this, earthly and temporal distinctions have no more meaning. Black, white, red, or green with purple dots, rich or poor, Democrat or Republican, all who are baptized are to be one in the Lord. There is to be a solidarity among the people of God. Unfortunately, all too often, this solidarity is lacking, even within the Church.

Such commitment is not always easy. We are called to take up our cross, and to do the works that Jesus did -- follow in his steps, his example. And that means: (quick review) feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, sheltering the homeless, challenging unjust authority, living in solidarity with the poor and the marginalized, speaking truth to power, servant leadership, building the kingdom of God.

In the United States, this day is also celebrated as Father's Day. These scriptures are appropriate for that celebration also, as the best example for a father is that of Christ Jesus. The father who daily takes up his cross to follow Jesus is the father who is loving and caring, who fulfills his parental responsibilities, who teaches his family to be in tune with the Spirit, who leads in solidarity with the poor.

How many are the ways that we all fall short of these ideals. We are offered the Cross, and we say, "No thanks", or perhaps, "Do you have one that is a little smaller, not so heavy and bothersome to carry?" If we would work for peace and justice in the hopes of a better world for ourselves and our children, we begin with our own selves, our own situation, our own conversion, orthodoxy and orthopraxis.

Today let us go to Our Lady of Sorrows, rejoicing for receiving the grace of the Eucharist, and yet sorrowful for the sins and the structures of sin in our society that perpetuate poverty, oppression, and injustice.

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