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WOF Radio > Sermons > Sermon Archive for 2009 > Sermon 458 : The Suffering Servant : 29th Sunday in Ordinary Time
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    Sermon 458 : The Suffering Servant : 29th Sunday in Ordinary Time

    10/14/2009
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    This Sunday's readings highlight the idea of redemptive suffering. The revelation of Christ changes our disposition towards the difficulties of life, filling these experiences with the potential for goodness. In his Incarnation, Christ did not evade the often harsh realities of human experience, but he accepted them, knowing that he would be with us in all things. The challenge for us is that in the face of the inevitable challenges of life is this: will we accept hardship as an occasion to grow in holiness and deepen our relationship with the Lord.
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Red
I've been told by so many Christians that my physical suffering, which has turned my life upside down and inside out over the last several years, is suffering that I deserve because, to summarize the smug and trite religious platitudes and attitudes I've endured, I am not holy enough.

And for that lack of holiness, I deserve every bit of suffering I've experienced for so many years.

Yes, it's a challenge to accept hardship and grow in holiness due to suffering. Even a bigger challenge to accept the hypocrisy of "Christians" who, as in today's reading (Wednesday), "tie up heavy burdens for people to bear, while you yourselves do not lift a finger to help them."

Why is it that we only love Jesus on His cross if that cross is over there on the wall, at a nice safe distance from our lives. But let that cross actually touch us, and we immediately condemn the victim, recoil and say she deserves everything she's getting. Love that cross, yes, from a nice, comfortable distance.

The cross on the wall is beautiful. The cross in your life is ugly. And we're still rejecting Him just like we did at Golgatha. It's too ugly, and most of all, it's disturbing and inconvenient. Couldn't be Jesus, could it. Because these days, in our western world, to believe in Jesus is to believe in "the good life." And that life is smug and comfortable. A real cross is offensive to that life. Better to keep it over there on the wall.

I guess what I'm saying is, that although there may be some exceptions here, for the most part, we're a church full of phonies who worship comfort, power, a life of ease and self-satisfaction. No place for an ugly old cross. No, that's for "those people", those sinners who deserve whatever they get. And now, Sherlock, you can tell me I'm bitter, and yes, we know, that is a big, bad, sin. But maybe it's one part bitterness, two parts forgiveness, and three parts truth. Oh no, how's that going to fit into a nice neat little package? Better ignore that!

Well, I doubt if this will get posted, either, but then at least one person will have read it. :^)

rd
10/14/2009 3:55:42 PM
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deacon jeff
I am always inspired by Father Baron's homilies. No exception this week. I have often reflected on why so many leaders of good intent, having everyhting going for them,but still slkip and fall.

It is because they have not learned this important principle..that real life comes from death-experiences. It's the "Paradox of Power" that Jesus tried to teach by riding on an Ass into Jerusalem. It is the principle that separates people like Mahatma Ghandi, Nelson Mandela, Martin Luther King jr. and so many other truly great ones from all the others wanna be greats....

They did not transfer their unjust suffering onto others but humbly and patiently and peacefully bore it for the sake of the world. By doing so , they gave life and hope to many people of the world.

If only our elected leaders (and yes, some of our ordained leaders could live this important , fundamental principle of christianity ...what a difference this world would instantly be!!!!!
10/15/2009 8:18:05 PM
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Fr. Isaias
I heard the word of god, it was inspiring.............
10/16/2009 10:44:46 AM
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Red
"I like your Christ, I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ."

"I consider western Christianity in its practical working a negation of Christ’s Christianity."

-Mahatma Ghandi

Don't reckon things have changed much.

rd
10/16/2009 11:21:18 AM
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Kathy Knight
More than 40 years ago, God told me, during a Holy Hour, when I was a novice in the convent, that it would be hard, but He would be with me. Well, It is still hard, but He is still with me.
10/16/2009 10:40:59 PM
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Gino Correa, OFM
I enjoy listening to your weekly homilies. They are good food for thought. I listened to this Sunday's after listening to your comments on the Vatican's investigation on our Sisters' communities. I have to say that the homily would have been a better launch for your comments. The process of the investigation itself seems to be what is troubling to many. It perceived as unjust by many and with good reason. The method of this investigation is embarrassing to me and to many and it will undermine anything good that might have come from what could have been a healthy and Christian dialogue. The investigation seems to have taken on a reactive mode that is causing reaction--and I am afraid that this will continue as a cycle of mistrust and negativity for a long time to come. Peace. Gino
10/17/2009 8:12:39 AM
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Jaculis
Very good of you to take the time and trouble to share a message of hope.
Peace.
10/18/2009 8:10:05 PM
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Giovanni Secchi
1Cor 1:18
"For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God."

Fr. Robert, as always THANK YOU! It is good that we can rely on you.

Holy Scripture is full of references that call us to unite ourselves with the Lord's sacrifice on the Cross. To accept the Lord's Cross as one's own is not equally easy or difficult to everybody. Those who endure serious hardships and diseases have been forced to give up a part of their 'self' and I am sure they can better overcome the obsessive external bodily desires of earthly life (St. Paul: 'flesh'/'belly' [Phil 3:3,19]) and they could be actually more open to the Spirit (cf. 2Cor 12:9 "I will all the more gladly boast of my weaknesses, that the power of Christ may rest upon me."). If they make it a conscious, (paradoxically, but yet) 'voluntary' offering put unto the foot of Christ's Cross, then the reward is the astonishing treasure of powerful graces that God trustfully provides to help living with the suffering (see reading text Heb 4:16). That is truly also my experience.

I understand Red's concern very well and I know how discouraging and painful it is to suffer from serious humiliations by others, who call themselves Christians, and I can also add here the saying 'Corruptio optimi pessima', i.e. 'the damage is even worst, if caused by those burdened with the most authority' (to "feed" the Lord's "sheep" [Jn 21:17] and to cultivate the field of God [1Cor 3:3-7,9]). - Critical discernment is important, though, we should concentrate our energy to stand up, to resist the dark shadows, so that the light of one's example may enlighten those with weak faith. God's Church is not just like a static earthly reign, but she has its purpose in growth of Faith and movement on the Lord's path to Golgotha! Jesus came to heal the spiritually sick (-> Mk 2:17). Yes, he made that visible in many miracles through physical healings (e.g. Matt 9:2), but it is nonsense to define that physical suffering would reveal sinfulness; this is even grave blasphemy, if we look upon Christ's Cross!
But we all must always grow in our Faith, all the time we remain in need of Christ's redemption through His Cross and Resurrection; that never ends. We are a Church of sinners (as St. Augustine stated against the heresy of the Donatists, who senselessly held that only the ‘clean’ sinless ones could find their place in the Church). Who can throw the first stone? (Jn 8:7)
For instance, St. Paul, who initially persecuted the Church and received after his conversion the apostolic authority, still presented himself as "the foremost of sinners" (1Tim 1:15), and he admonished the Corinthians so severely (1Cor11:22 "Do you not have houses to eat and drink in?"). In that sense, a very much burdened person in afflictions of diseases and hardships can be very much stronger in Faith than someone, who is completely ignorant of that (Who is SPIRITUALLY sick, that is the question). Then we must consider that we all partake in the responsibility for our Church, though gradually differently.
I would even go further, our accusations against failures in the Church oblige us as affected members. Look: If I would recognise that my family would be a whole mess, it would be my little task to be a good example for the others, in order to make my little contribution to come out of the worst. We cannot distinguish ourselves from 'the Church' in such a way, as if we would not be part of her, for we are the 'branches' of the redemptive 'vine' of our Saviour Jesus Christ (Jn 15:5), and Christ himself entrusted the task to administer the Church to human beings; Jesus already knew that St. Peter would deny him (let alone Judas). But He promised to build up 'His Church' (Matt 16:19). And what did Jesus say to his Apostles in Luke 22:29 ? - "I assign to you, as my Father assigned to me, a kingdom" - very strong words to very weak guys! ('to assign' is in the original Greek text 'diatíthe[e]mai' -> inf. 'diatíthe[e]sthai', which is derived from 'diathé[e]ke' (meaning: Covenant). We do not apply any antagonisms, if it comes to the topic of “democracy” in our countries, as the theme is complex. We should be also careful, if we talk about the Church. My opinion.

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BIBLE REFERENCES

Matt 11:28-30
" Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light."

Rom 12:1
"I appeal to you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship."

Matt 10:38
"and he who does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me. "

St. Paul in Gal 2:19-20
"I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me [...]"

Romans 14:7-8
"None of us lives to himself, and none of us dies to himself. 8* If we live, we live to the Lord, and if we die, we die to the Lord"
10/19/2009 12:59:17 PM
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Red
Thank you for addressing my concern, Giovanni. I do get bitter sometimes about things, but I hope that I will also learn to forgive those who humiliate me. I believe Jesus asks us to forgive as He forgives us. And sometimes, as difficult as it may be to see, His prayer is true - "Father, forgive them for they know not what they do."

I love the Holy Catholic Church, and consider her my one true sanctuary here on earth. It sometimes feels like the sanctuary has been seriously defiled, though. And yes, I know I'm not perfect, and bring my own sins into the Church, yet still, there are times when our smug, pharisaic approach to our Church really just gets to me.

rd
10/20/2009 2:55:13 PM
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tdk
Dear Red, I admire your honesty. I am a struggling Catholic--perhaps one of the hypocrits you write about. Your words bring truth to the lyrics of "the greatest cause of athesism in this world are Christians, who acknowledge Jesus with their lips, then walk out the door and deny Him by their lifestyle, that is what an unbelievable world simply finds unbelievable."
10/21/2009 11:44:50 AM
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Red
tdk,

That's a great song by DCTalk. Thanks for that.

Lifestyle. Yeah, it means a lot more than just "appearing" to be holy. It sure goes down deep, doesn't it? I've a long way to go to be even a little like Jesus, and being sick so much of the time has sure been a challenge.

You know, thanks so much for not lecturing or talking down. Seems to me that's mostly what I get these days when reaching out for help. Yet I can't help but wonder if they were in my shoes, would they be so smug?

I know we're all hypocrites to some extent, but I doubt if you're one of the folks I've been complaining about. I guess I just wonder why people have to feel like they've got all the answers, especially when a lot of the time we're not even considering the right questions? :^) Makes for a pretty superficial discernment process, that's for sure.

Well, just wanted to say hi and thanks. God bless you. God bless you all.

rd
10/21/2009 1:13:52 PM
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Giovanni Secchi
Red,
I am glad that my words have been somehow helpful. I assure you: I know by my own experience, what you are referring to. Of course, you are right: What our lips express, must correspond to what we mean by our heart and to what we live out. Otherwise I offend God and I commit serious sin. In order to remind us of that, Jesus quotes Isaiah in Matt 15:8 (and Mk 7:6): "This people honoureth me with their lips: but their heart is far from me." (-> Isa 29:13) - Yes, our Faith is not a mere habit or custom, instead it is real commitment to God and our brothers and sisters. It is very sad, if it is diminished to a mere 'cultural system'. That kind of thinking can be regarded as a betrayal against God, because thus the Lord is rejected apparently knowingly. But I am also very much aware that I myself am in danger to fall into such a trap. This is the reason, why my approach sounds rather like apologetics, as I must also struggle with the weaknesses in my heart. The doubts of human reason can be an impediment to the working of the Holy Spirit; to overcome them can result in more strength in Faith. And anyway I find very important the catholic ministries offered by websites like Fr. Barron's 'Word on Fire' and TV/Radio Stations like EWTN etc. with instructive programmes.

God bless you and you all, my brothers and sisters in Christ!
10/21/2009 6:17:28 PM
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Maria Alfaro
Thank you Dear Father Robert Barron.

Finally I also sorted out my questions and doubts that tormented me a liftime around suffering and the suffering Christ. Even I asked many priests and they could not explain to me the real and exact nature of this kind of suffering.

The Holy Spirit through you is bringing so much light to our society.
Love, Maria
11/25/2009 5:06:44 AM
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Al
Hello Red, thank you for sharing your pain with us. I needed so much to see it though I hate when "I" hear that.

I often feel the same way. My Evangelical family telling me that "if I prayed right" my daughter would be alive today enrages me. She passed from leukemia 4/19/89. My older daughter has a chronic illness. I have MS. My daughter was born two weeks after our daughter died. She has 2 children born out of wedlock. The father is in prison.

I've almost given up on prayer. But I will pray for you.

Ya gotta let me know how things go because I need to see a YES somewhere. ANYWHERE!

Thank you Fr. Barron for brining us all together this day.

Your brother in Christ,
Al
5/12/2010 12:09:08 PM
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Jerald
I love these pictures, buasece through them I see LOVE,HOPE, TRUTH and EVERLASTING LIFE WITH MY SAVIOR. The pictures of his CRUCIFICTION tells me that if he could endour all the pain and humiliation, then so can I. You are not worshiping the pics, but seeing what our LORD went through for all of us. We were made in HIS IMAGE and COLOR HAS NO MEANING IN HIS EYES. I am Native American and in our language that He gave us, HE is Wanka Tanka, The Great Spirit, Our Creator. All he wants EVERYONE to do is LOVE ONE ANOTHER and TELL OTHERS ABOUT HIM. Thank you Great Spirit for your Unmerciful Treatment, I am waiting for you to return. God Bless Everyone.
12/18/2012 10:27:49 PM
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