Twenty Fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time

The Mystery of Suffering and Faith with Works
By Father Pete Iorio

Welcome anyone has come here seeking refuge from Hurricane Florence. The pun is intended when I say that we have been saturated with suffering these days: the hurricane, the scandals in the Church and remembering the terrorist attacks of 911.   Why is all this happening? Doesn’t God love us? Some say, if there is a God, He would not allow suffering. These are huge questions and they are not easy to answer. We who are Christians look to our relationship with Jesus, true God and true Man for the answers. Today in the Gospel, Jesus reveals his identity as the Christ- the anointed of God, Messiah in Hebrew. In my experience, Christians today have as much difficulty accepting what he said about having to suffer just as the disciples did back then. As He told them, He tells us that we are not thinking as God does but as human beings do.

My brothers and sisters, greatness is not all about being number one or being better than others, nor is it about having the most money, security, or health. For Christians, greatness is about living very simply in God who is LOVE.

True confession: When I suffer or encounter pain, I don’t like it. I hurt. I feel the pain and sadness and frustration. Then, I pray. I imitate Mary and I reflect on the deeper meaning of these situations in my life. I relate them to my Lord Jesus who is the Christ. I ask for the capacity to love like He did, to let His life grow in me. As I have grown in my faith, my understanding and acceptance of the “Cross” in my life has changed and matured, thanks be to God.

Today we are invited into a reflection on the Mystery of Suffering. I see in those who suffer God’s invitation to us of drawing out of us greater love. When I say YES, God always expands my capacity to love.

Here’s a tough experience where someone was able to transform their suffering in Jesus: When his wife first got her stroke, Wilfred was tempted to leave his family, but together with his wife and children, he got the strength to start again. He said, ‘At the beginning we felt we were lost. Then little by little we found the answer together, me and the children, how to cook, to wash the floors, to clean the house, all the things she used to do. We had to be with their mother in a new way and together, we had to help their youngest child with his studies.

Wilfred says: ‘Now we’re very different. We used to spend days, weeks and sometimes months hardly talking. But everything changed when with the kids we decided to live the Gospel of love seriously with the help of other families. To take the first step, to forgive, to see the positive in each other…and our life has changed.’

‘God is love. You have to believe it,’ he said, ‘even in suffering, our relationships have grown. We saw how pain can turn into love.’

To choose suffering love/a love that costs you in some way is always a free choice. It is a mystery as to why God chose this path…to suffer and die on a cross out of love for us. Jesus preached: There is no greater love than to lay down your life for a friend. (JOHN 15:13) Then he put it into practice on the Cross.

What good is it if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Today’s second reading, taken from the Letter of James to the Church, emphasizes again that suffering is not only something to be accepted but also something to be alleviated. James tells us that our Faith in Jesus the Messiah should be expressed in alleviating others’ suffering through works of mercy, both corporal and spiritual. In other words, professing Faith in the Divinity of Christ and his role as our Redeemer is useless, unless we practice that Faith in genuine deeds of love, mercy, forgiveness and humble service as Jesus lived and demonstrated these qualities.

I invite you to put your faith into works. Today, we are showcasing the good works that happen at St. Mary’s with the Ministries Fair. We are a vibrant parish and especially we want new people to join us in living the faith by serving. For some, it is a cross to take up when you give of your precious time and talent to serve in the Church. This too is an opportunity to love in greater capacity.

Learn adult faith formation
Heal parish nurse, pro life
When I was hungry Food pantry, Melting Pot, bereavement meal ministry
When I was in prison, you visited me
When I was homeless, Family Promise, St. Vincent de Paul
Care of Creation – good stewards JPIC, maintenance and grounds, flower garden upkeep
Leadership PPC, front Office. Communications
Building Community Knights, Ladies United, Tuesday coffee
Prayer and Worship  liturgical ministries, adoration and Divine Mercy
Teach Children’s Faith Formation (CFF), youth, St. Mary’s School, pro-life, RCIA

There is something near and dear to my heart. Right below us is the lower level of the Church. Every Wednesday evening over 100 youth members of our parish in grades 7-12 are formed in the faith. Right now, we have only one paid minister. She desperately needs your help, parents. Even if you do not have children this age, we can use your help. There are many different things that Stephanie does to engage the youth in loving Christ and in living the faith. They don’t just happen on Wednesday. And the assistance you give can be short term. Check out the youth ministry table. We need you. Our young people need you. Christ needs you.

Won’t you deny yourself and lose yourself in the mission of Jesus the Christ?

 

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