Below is my homily for the Seventh Sunday of Easter. It was given to Ss. Cosmas & Damian Parish in Punxsutawney, PA on Sunday, May 28, 2017, at the 8:00 am parish mass.
A Reading from the Holy Gospel according to John (Jn 17:1-11a)
Jesus raised his eyes to heaven and said,
“Father, the hour has come.
Give glory to your son, so that your son may glorify you,
just as you gave him authority over all people,
so that your son may give eternal life to all you gave him.
Now this is eternal life,
that they should know you, the only true God,
and the one whom you sent, Jesus Christ.
I glorified you on earth
by accomplishing the work that you gave me to do.
Now glorify me, Father, with you,
with the glory that I had with you before the world began.
“I revealed your name to those whom you gave me out of the world.
They belonged to you, and you gave them to me,
and they have kept your word.
Now they know that everything you gave me is from you,
because the words you gave to me I have given to them,
and they accepted them and truly understood that I came from you,
and they have believed that you sent me.
I pray for them.
I do not pray for the world but for the ones you have given me,
because they are yours, and everything of mine is yours
and everything of yours is mine,
and I have been glorified in them.
And now I will no longer be in the world,
but they are in the world, while I am coming to you.”
The Gospel of the Lord
“Whoever is made to suffer as a Christian should not be ashamed but glorify God because of the name.”
It is so easy to find suffering in our world. All we have to do is turn on the evening news and we are bombarded with suffering. For some, we see suffering when we look to our loved ones. For others, we see suffering when we look in the mirror.
But Jesus did not say that following Him would be easy! This is not a simple task to follow. In fact, He told us in the beatitudes that we would be persecuted and we would suffer!
“Blessed are you when they insult you and persecute you and utter every kind of evil against you [falsely] because of me. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward will be great in heaven. Thus, they persecuted the prophets who were before you.”
He made it very clear that by following Him that we would suffer by the hands of others.
Yet just because we suffer does not give us the permission to give up on Jesus Christ.
Look at our Coptic brothers and sisters; look at our brothers and sisters who are dying for the name of Jesus Christ in the middle east. Look at our brothers and sisters who suffer every single day because they proclaim the name Jesus Christ. We see this in the news, but they are not giving in to the pressures of society! They are dying for their faith.
Now we might not be persecuted in such a violent manner here in Punxsutawney or the United States, yet we are being persecuted in a different way. Our morality given to us by Christ, proclaimed to us in the Gospel, given to us by our forefathers of the Church, the early century Christians who understood Jesus Christ in a different way, in a personal way, who were able to walk with Him, talk with Him, pray with Him. Thai morality, that understanding of what Faith is, is being debased. We are told that life does not matter, that honor does not matter, that God does not matter.
So what should we do? Should we give up and let someone else tell us what is right and moral and just? Should we ignore what Jesus Christ has commanded us, to love one another as we have received from Him? Or should we stand up for our faith, should we follow God’s Will in our daily lives, learning more about Him every single day through daily prayer, through reading about the lives of the saints, those that have gone before us, just like the ones that were persecuted before us? Should we go through the scripture, reading the scripture every single day, allowing just one sentence of scripture to meditate on, to resonate in our hearts, to bring us closer to the truth that is Jesus Christ?
Let us take a moment this week as we follow His Will for our lives to offer up whatever persecution and suffering we might experience to give greater glory to His Name. So that when we do receive the Spirit on Pentecost so that when we do receive the Spirit of Christ, we might be able to go out and proclaim to the whole world who it is that we follow.