Brett Fawcett


Twelfth Sunday in Ordinary Time – June 19, 2016
Zechariah 12.10-11 | Psalm 63 | Galatians 3.26-29 | Luke 9.18-24
June 13, 2016

Today's readings reminded me of when I recently witnessed someone snickering that a Catholic parish was named "Most Precious Blood." It was a good reminder of how counter-intuitive our redemption is: The Gospel defies the world by saying that life can come out of death.

The First Reading describes how Jesus will be despised and rejected. Reformed theologian Jurgen Moltmann says that being despised is not the worst part; a successful person can handle being hated.

Rejection is the hard part - and yet who among us has not experienced rejection? We even reject ourselves sometimes. The prophet also says the people of God will mourn over Jesus like a mother grieving her only son, an image that becomes more vivid as we grow older and witness more and more families who lose their children in ways too tragic to list here.

If any want to become my followers, let them . . . take up their cross daily and follow me. - Luke 9.23

'If any want to become my followers, let them . . . take up their cross daily and follow me.'

Luke 9.23

Today's Gospel opens with Jesus praying alone, a quiet golden glow in the darkness, before he tells his apostles that this is his path, and that therefore it must be their path. He must pray alone; we can share our joys; we can even share our pain; but, somehow, we must go through sadness alone.

This is why we often feel so powerless to comfort those who have gone through great tragedies and suffering: something is inaccessible about their grief; it is hidden deep in their hearts. Even if I have suffered in a similar way, I can't ever know your suffering, and thus I can never cure it.

Yet Hans Urs von Balthasar observes that the way the heart sends blood - that is, life - to the body is by being "an ever-bleeding wound." Every one of us has this woundedness silently weeping within us, a silent shadow hovering at the edges of our experiences.

When we quiet ourselves and are present to it, we have to cry out with today's psalm: "My soul is thirsting for you!" This is what poured out of Jesus' Sacred Heart, which has now become the heart of the world; if I let it, my mourning and sadness can find a home within the lonely sadness which carried my sins, in love, to the cross.

When we open our hearts this way, God's life-giving tears - his precious blood - can stream into us.

We do not have to be afraid of our grief and sadness, if we know that they are a pilgrimage into God's love. As Catherine Doherty once said, a pilgrimage into the hearts of others who are suffering is a journey into a communion of compassion.