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Homily by Fr. David A. Runnion for September 13, 2015

Homily by Fr. David A. Runnion for September 13, 2015, 24th Sunday in Ordinary Time.

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Every person must ultimately say who Jesus is for them, and there are only two possibilities: He is either Christ the Lord – God come to earth, or He is just an unconventional Jewish rabbi. If the latter, there is no point in our being here this morning, and we can go our own way in life and see what happens. But if He is God – and He is – then our fulfillment in this life and our eternal destiny in the next depend upon our following Him.

And, Jesus says, "Whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me. For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and that of the gospel will save it."[1] Four things He says we must do: deny ourself, take up our cross, follow Him, and lose our life for His sake and that of the Gospel. What do these mean?

1. To deny ourself means to forego our own purposes and pleasures in favor of the Lord's.

Anna Katharine Emmerich grew up in poverty in Germany in the 18th and 19th centuries. She loved Jesus and often walked the outdoor Way of the Cross. She had a striking love for others, too, knowing, as St. James said: what good is it to assert faith in Christ and not help a brother or sister in need?[2] Ultimately, Anna denied herself entirely for Christ by becoming a nun, still helping others, and receiving visits from the Lord, as well as His painful stigmata.[3] Her life of self-denial "instructed [others] in loving dedication to Jesus."[4] She was declared Blessed in 2004.[5]

2. To take up our cross means to accept trials and suffering for Christ's sake.

Chiara Badano (chee-'ar-uh bah-'dan-no), born in Italy in 1971, was a very kind and giving person with a deep love for Jesus. Diagnosed with cancer as a teenager, she said if this is what Jesus wants, then I want it too. She died in 1990 at the age of 19 and was declared Blessed in 2010.[6]

3. To follow Christ means to live as He lived and to do what He asks us to do.

Bartholomew Longo was an exceptionally bright attorney, a renaissance man in 19th century Europe caught up in many worldly activities, who wandered into the occult and deadly Satanism. By God's grace and a repentant return to Christ through the Rosary, he spent the rest of his life ardently following Christ, teaching college students the dangers of the occult, helping the poor, and building a shrine, where miracles began to occur.[7] He was declared Blessed in 1980.

4. To lose our life for Christ's sake and that of the Gospel means living fully for the Lord and not for our own worldly good. For some Christians, it also literally means martyrdom.

Pedro Calungsod was a teenage Philippino catechist in the 17th century. When attackers came for the missionary priest he was helping (in Guam), Pedro could have fled, but he stayed and was killed for his Catholic faith. He was canonized in 2012.[8]

Do we want all that Christ promises? Do we want to please Him and be holy like these four Blessed followers of His? A Secret to holiness is love of Christ.[9] If we love Him, we will deny ourself, live for Him and others, and accept trials, suffering, and even death for His sake.

Blessed Nemesia Valle (ne-'may-zia 'vah-lay) (of Italy) said last century: "Holiness does not consist in doing many things or great things.... Those who entirely spend themselves each day, wherever they are, for the Lord, are holy."[10]

This week, let us:

1. Ask the Lord to help us love Him more deeply; then

2. Deny ourself, take up our Cross, and follow Him more closely, losing our life for His sake and that of the Gospel.

[1] Mk 8:35.

[2] Jm 2:14-18.

[3] http://www.vatican.va/news_services/liturgy/saints/ns_lit_doc_20041003_emmerick_en.html.

[4] Pope St. John Paul II, http://www.vatican.va/holy_father/john_paul_ii/homilies/2004/documents/hf_jp-ii_hom_20041003_beatifications_en.html.

[5] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anne_Catherine_Emmerich.

[6] http://www.vatican.va/holy_father/benedict_xvi/speeches/2010/october/documents/hf_ben-xvi_spe_20101003_palermo-giovani_en.html; http://saltandlighttv.org/blog/tag/rome/page/3.

[7] http://saints.sqpn.com/blessed-bartholomew-longo/.

[8] http://pedrocalungsod.org/index.php/life/76; http://pedrocalungsod.org/index.php/news/1-latest-news/84-schedule-of-activites-in-rome.

[9] See http://www.vatican.va/holy_father/john_paul_ii/homilies/2004/documents/hf_jp-ii_hom_20040425_beatifications_en.html.

[10] http://www.vatican.va/holy_father/john_paul_ii/homilies/2004/documents/hf_jp-ii_hom_20040425_beatifications_en.html; http://saints.sqpn.com/saintg1i.htm.

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