Saint Mary Our Lady of GraceSaint Petersburg, FL Fr. Cletus Watson T.O.R., Pastor R.C.I.A.
Daily Reflection Reflection USCCB
The Way of Faith: Discussion • Illness and suffering have always been among the gravest problems confronted in human life and that as disciples we are called to offer compassion and healing. In the news • MEXICO CITY – Global health authorities warned Wednesday that swine flu was threatening to bloom into a pandemic, and the virus spread farther in Europe even as the outbreak appeared to stabilize at its epicenter. A toddler who succumbed in Texas became the first death outside Mexico. (WHO warns swine flu threatening to become pandemic)
In the Readings Jesus said: “I am the good shepherd. A good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. (Jn 10:11-18)
Tradition Says: • [Christ's] compassion toward all who suffer goes so far that he identifies himself with them: “I was sick and you visited me.” His preferential love for the sick has not ceased through the centuries to draw the very special attention of Christians toward all those who suffer in body and soul. It is the source of tireless efforts to comfort them. (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1503)
Moved by so much suffering Christ not only allows himself to be touched by the sick, but he makes their miseries his own: “He took our infirmities and bore our diseases.” But he did not heal all the sick. His healings were signs of the coming of the Kingdom of God. They announced a more radical healing: the victory over sin and death through his Passover. On the cross Christ took upon himself the whole weight of evil and took away the “sin of the world,” of which illness is only a consequence. By his passion and death on the cross Christ has given a new meaning to suffering: it can henceforth configure us to him and unite us with his redemptive Passion. (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1505)
Faith Sharing • Take this opportunity to share your experiences and stories with each other and to discuss the significance the cross has to our Catholic Faith.
What is the meaning of the cross? The sign of the cross is often reduced to a good-luck charm- around our necks or over our body when we begin a test. The Cross of Jesus Christ does not promise us success, health, or pleasure. The Cross only promises us that Jesus will be with us, no matter how badly we suffer, no matter how badly we fail, and no matter how horribly we feel. Jesus said, “Behold I am with you always until the end of the age.” It is through His Cross that Jesus is with us- that is the meaning of the Cross and that is the meaning of our Christian faith.
God enters into the depth, the pit of human experience through Jesus’ crucifixion and death. We are not alone. We wish that the Holy Cross meant that we don’t have to suffer, but it means that God chose to suffer with us. God’s ways are not our ways. The lesson of the Holy Cross is still very hard for us. That is why the Holy Cross became THE sign of the Catholic faith. Even in our Churches, known for stained glass, statues, and stations- the only image that is explicitly required is a cross, depicting Christ crucified. How often do we struggle to believe in God when things are going well? How much more do we need to remember that God is with us, even in our sufferings?
The Holy Cross becomes a sign of hope. When we look on the Holy Cross, we can believe that there is hope beyond our suffering, our failures, and our loss. We can believe that there is hope for the single pregnant mother, hope for the terminally ill, and hope for the poor. There is hope because God will not abandon us in our sufferings.We must always exalt and lift up the Cross of Jesus Christ. The God of Jesus Christ did not fail the city of Houston in the path of hurricane Ike. The God of Jesus Christ did not fail the faithful parishioner afflicted with cancer. The God of Jesus Christ did not fail Coach Meyer in his accident and diagnosis. The God of Jesus Christ suffers with them. The God of Jesus Christ suffers with us. The God of Jesus Christ is with us.
How is this applicable to your life? • In what ways do you carry the cross as a sign of hope?
Closing Prayer We pause and remember that we are always and everywhere in the presence of the Holy One Who pitched His tent among us and loves us with an everlasting love. We are His people and He is our God. In the name of GOD the FATHER Who is HOLY. In the name of the SON Who is REDEEMER and in the name of the SPIRIT Who invites us to grow in grace and life; all honor and glory, praise and thanksgiving be Yours, now and forever.
PSALM 102 O Lord, hear our prayer and let our cry come to You. Hide not Your face from us in the day of our distress. Incline Your ear to us; in the day when we call, answer us speedily. O Lord, we put our trust in You. Let us not be put to shame.