Monday, September 19, 2005

“CHRIST BECAME OBEDIENT UNTO DEATH!”

The reading of the Twenty-Sixth Sunday from the Letter of the Letter of St. Paul to the Philippians provides us with the solution to living our faith in a way that is pleasing to Almighty God. Obedience, which is the corollary of humility, is that key ingredient. Without obedience and the humility that characterizes it, we cannot please God. One could conquer the universe for Christ, but if it is done in pride, it cannot please God.

Obedience is the basic virtue of Our Blessed Mother. At the Annunciation Our Lady said: “Behold the handmaid of the Lord. Be it done unto me according to thy word.” When God’s will had been made known to her, she placed herself in complete accord with His will. This was the basis for her every thought, word and deed in life. The same was true of the great Saint Joseph. When the angel appeared to Joseph with instructions from heaven, Joseph obeyed immediately.

Our Blessed Lord said: “It is not to do my own will that I have come down from heaven, but to do the will of Him who sent me (John 6:38). In the profound mystery of our redemption, the Father willed that His Son would become man and offer up His life in atonement for our sins. Saint Paul tells us today that Jesus “humbled Himself, obediently accepting even death, death on a cross!” Why? Why the Cross? Couldn’t there have been another way? Yes, If God so willed it to be! But He did not! He willed the sacrificial death of His beloved Son on the Cross of Calvary.

Just as it is impossible for our limited intelligence to comprehend this mystery, so too is it impossible for us to understand the mystery of sin and of the enormity of its offensiveness to God. By contemplating the mysteries, we can come to some limited understanding. Yet, not until the Day of Judgment will the wisdom of the Father be revealed to those “who have been washed clean in the Blood of the Lamb.”

Like Our Divine Savior, we must accept the will and the wisdom of the Father both in regard to Jesus’ Passion and Death and our own sufferings in this life. The saints understood this to a much higher degree than we do. Only Our Blessed Mother understood it completely. As we read in the Catechism of the Catholic Church, Mary, “His mother was associated more intimately than any other person in the mystery of the redemptive suffering (Catechism N. 618).

During our earthly sojourn, let us personalize the words of Our Lord: “I always do what is pleasing to Him” (John 8:29). It is only in accepting the trials and crosses that the Lord sends that we can find the peace of Christ. Like Peter, we have an aversion to suffering. We too seek the glory and not the trials. We too falter and fail. But, just as Peter repented of his sins and failures, we too must live a supernatural life of faith.

How will we find the strength to carry our crosses? In Christ Crucified! In contemplating His Passion and Death on the Cross! This is where Saints Peter and Paul found the strength to suffer martyrdom. This is where St. Thomas More and St. John Fisher found their strength as they waited to be hung, drawn and quartered for their allegiance to Jesus Christ and His Holy Catholic Church. This is where every follower of Jesus finds strength, courage and hope, in Christ Crucified.

We adore Thee O Christ and we praise you. Because by your holy Cross, you have redeemed the world!
Father Richard J. Rego

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