Listen to Deacon Bryan’s homily from this morning. First, read this Gospel passage (Matthew 15:21-28):
At that time, Jesus withdrew to the region of Tyre and Sidon.
And behold, a Canaanite woman of that district came and called out,
“Have pity on me, Lord, Son of David!
My daughter is tormented by a demon.”
But Jesus did not say a word in answer to her.
Jesus’ disciples came and asked him,
“Send her away, for she keeps calling out after us.”
He said in reply,
“I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.”
But the woman came and did Jesus homage, saying, “Lord, help me.”
He said in reply,
“It is not right to take the food of the children
and throw it to the dogs.”
She said, “Please, Lord, for even the dogs eat the scraps
that fall from the table of their masters.”
Then Jesus said to her in reply,
“O woman, great is your faith!
Let it be done for you as you wish.”
And the woman’s daughter was healed from that hour.
Jesus reveals his love for this woman through a strong challenge so he can boast about her great faith when she perseveres in prayer. Let’s imitate her great humility before the Lord!
The eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had ordered them. When they saw him, they worshiped, but they doubted. Then Jesus approached and said to them, “All power in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, until the end of the age.”
There is something hidden in this passage that the modern day reader doesn’t grasp at first glance, or perhaps even at second or third glances. Of course, there is the obvious mission given from Jesus to the disciples to go out and make more disciples, but that is right there in the text. No, this hidden message requires the reader to place this passage within the entire context of the Gospel.
The passage is comprised of the final five verses of the Gospel of Matthew. After it, there is nothing more written by this Gospel author. Before it, though, is where the hidden message is revealed: Before this passage, Jesus is dead. This isn’t a figurative death, no. Before this passage, the disciples watched as their leader was arrested, scourged, mocked, forced to carry his own cross to his place of death, crucified, and lifted up for the all the world to see his final breath. Finally, his dead body was placed in a tomb and a huge stone was placed in front of the entrance so no one could get in or out.
We can try to imagine what was going through the minds and hearts of the disciples when they saw their King for the first time after his resurrection, but one thing is certain: they finally understood everything. They witnessed their King give everything for their sake, and now he was asking them to go and tell people about it. The hidden message from Jesus is this: Your King has given everything for your sake; now you must give everything for the sake of his Kingdom. This radical new way of life they were to proclaim to the nations was sure to lead to further persecution, mockery, beatings, and martyrdom. They were to imitate Jesus in giving everything they had so that more people might come to know the Good News.
The hidden message in this passage wasn’t meant only for those eleven disciples. It was meant for all disciples of Jesus Christ, even those of us who live in the world 2000 years later. We, too, are meant to give everything for the sake of the Kingdom of Heaven. We, too, are meant to pour ourselves out just as Jesus poured himself out on the cross. St. Paul wrote to the Corinthians, “Imitate me as I imitate Christ” (1 Cor 11:1). St. Paul was a martyr for Jesus Christ. He gave everything for the sake of the Kingdom of Heaven. Perhaps we won’t be killed for our faith, but our lives ought to be filled with little “deaths” sprinkled throughout the day. Above all, it means keeping a mentality which seeks to give myself to others rather than to take things for myself, and to do this as a way to love as Jesus loved. Many probably know what this looks like – staying up late with the sick child, patiently working through miscommunications with the spouse, waking up earlier so everyone in the house has time to get themselves for school, work, etc., acknowledging a wrong and seeking forgiveness when pride would rather stick to stubbornness, missing the big game on TV for the sake of spending time with friends or going to Mass, the list can go on and on.
“After He had sent the crowds away, He went up on the mountain by Himself to pray.”
Giving everything is hard and tiring. It can be easy to throw in the proverbial towel and give up on the fight. After all, a person can only give so much. Well, fortunately for us, Jesus also gives us a great blueprint for sustaining a life of self-sacrifice: check out the first part of Matthew 14:23 (the quote above). Jesus knew that prayer would help sustain his life of self-sacrifice. St. Paul knew the same thing. Countless other saints – all of the saints, in fact – knew the same thing and would often spend significant amounts of time in prayer. “Imitate me as I imitate Christ.” St. John Paul II had a great line:
“If the path becomes difficult at times and you are overcome by fatigue, rest in the shade of prayer.”
Make disciples. Give everything. Imitate the saints. Rest in the shade of prayer.
posted by: zealoussheep
We are blessed to be immersed in immense days of grace. First, we have been invited to peer into the wounded side of Our Savior and journey the path of the soldier’s lance and so find that most beautiful Heart pierced for love of us.
Exactly four years ago today, I boarded a plane to depart the Eternal City and return to America. There I spent a year face to face with these princes, confronted concretely with the places and circumstances of their deaths, and with their passion, zeal, and sacrifice. Standing in the places where they shed their blood, I recognized anew the voice of my Savior and theirs calling me to the same: Lay down your life. For love of ME give it all.
Martyrdom, the shedding of one’s blood, is a literal manifestation of giving it all. We may not all be called to die a martyr’s death, but we are called to lay all that we have, are, and will be, before the throne of our King and God and give him all, each and every day.
How are you living? Are you ready to shed your blood? Every Christian disciple should aspire to be brave enough to do so. St. John Paul II said,
If something is not worth dying for, it’s not worth living for.
Is our faith something worth dying for, really living for? Is our living a shining witness of readiness to give it all? Of having interiorly surrendered everything, fully uniting our will to HIS?
May these days of grace be an occasion to gaze upon that burning, pierced, enflamed Sacred Heart. To gaze upon that pure, holy, fragrant, sword skewered Immaculate Heart. To look into those fierce, courageous eyes of those martyred princes. May these days fortify you. May they call you on to greatness. May they inspire you to follow our Savior, our Mother and Saints Peter and Paul in generously pouring out your life. May your offering yield for the world an increasingly confident, joyful, courageous Catholic witness that begins right now in your heart enflamed by love.
Behold the Heart of your Savior!
Engulfed in the burning fire of love. Not just any love, no, but a mature, fully committed, and unending love. This flame of love drove Him in the quest to save His beloved. This flame of love drove Him to die on the cross so that we may live. What a beautiful love!
Wrapped by the crown of thorns, which He, the King of Heaven, wore as His crown on earth. This crown of thorns made Him suffer immense pain, yet the flame of love pressed Him to endure it all for us. His suffering was transformed into great and powerful prayer: “Forgive them, Father, for they know not what they do.”
The wound below His crown, still bleeding His most sacred blood. Always bleeding His most sacred blood. It may seem as though it ought to run dry, but it will always bleed for us as a fountain of love and mercy. This bleeding Heart constantly pours out life into the Body of Christ, the Church.
The cross in the midst of the flame, as though this Heart knows how much it must sacrifice if the flame of love is to survive. The flame only grows when given the opportunity to embrace the wood of the cross, which ultimately means sacrificing the very life of the Heart. Yet the complete sacrifice only allows the Heart to reveal it’s true strength and power, for It lives even after Its death.
Finally, this entire Heart is surrounded by the Divine Light itself, revealing the supreme Love of God, who sent His only Son – the second Person of the Holy Trinity, Jesus Christ – to dwell among men and die for the sake of their salvation. This Divine Light blocks out all darkness and does not allow sin to penetrate the Heart, but instead allows the Heart to spread the Light to all the corners of the world, constantly revealing the great love and mercy of God.
This Heart allows us to become children of God. This Heart allows us life in Heaven after death. Let’s all pray that our hearts may become more like this Heart everyday.