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09/08/19 23rd Sunday in Ordinary Time - Deacon Tony

 

Deacon Tony Conti

Twenty-third Sunday in Ordinary Time
Lectionary: 129

  • In today’s gospel, Jesus isn’t literally asking us to hate those whom we love, or to sell everything we own and live in tents...
  • He’s asking us to hold loosely the things of this world, which we will all be required to part with one day...
  • He’s asking us to focus our attention outside of ourselves beyond our personal needs and wants...
  • He’s asking us to learn how to carry our daily crosses - The crosses that come to us disguised as our life...
  • From today’s Gospel: “Whoever does not carry his own cross and come after me
    cannot be my disciple
    .”
  • We can become so fixated upon Jesus’ cross that we fail to recognize the crosses in our own lives
  • Carrying crosses in life is often much more mundane than we can imagine…
  • Life inevitably makes demands of us every day... family, friends, strangers ask for our help, our involvement, our attention...
  • These are all potential crosses, whether we recognize them as such or not...
  • Every time we make the effort to serve another when we’re busy or tired… We’re carrying our cross…
  • Every time we do what’s required of us when it’s inconvenient… We’re carrying our cross…
  • Every time we push ourselves fulfill our duties in life… We’re carrying our cross…
  • Crosses draw us out of ourselves and force us to focus on the needs of another...
  • Crosses force us to become less selfish and more selfless...
  • Crosses force us to choose between the easy path of indifference and inaction and the harder path of compassion and commitment... 
  • What Jesus is trying to convey to us in today’s gospel is that the more we become attached to the things of this world, the harder it will be for us to embrace the crosses that demand our attention...
  • None of this means that we can’t enjoy the good things of this world, or that we can’t love family and friends...
  • It means that we must always be aware that all these things are passing and that one day we will be asked to let them go...
  • It means that we need to remind ourselves of the impermanence of the life that we’re currently living, and work to make the most of the time we’re gifted with...
  • The best way to make the most of any life is to learn to embrace our daily crosses... the big ones and the most mundane... because every cross helps to form us into the image of the One Who created us... 
  • The essence of Jesus’ message is to hold loosely to what is passing and to hold tightly to what endures...
  • Love endures... everything else is vanity...
  • What endures in this life and the next is the love we give and the love we receive... Nothing else can pass the test of time...
  • We need to begin to appreciate that it’s the small things that we do every day that matter far more than we can ever imagine...
  • Every human being desires to be successful, but how we define success makes all the difference...
  • If we define success as winning the approval and admiration of others, we’ll soon be disappointed; because human approval and admiration is fickle and fleeting at best...
  • If we define success in terms of power and position; we will soon find that these too are temporary, and don’t fulfill our deep desire for long term happiness...
  • True success, as Jesus has taught us over and over in the gospels, can only be measured in our service to others... by embracing our crosses…
  • It’s the lives that we touch along the way that has lasting value and that makes us fully human...
  • We can choose not to carry some of the crosses in our life, while others are simply unavoidable…
  • But every time we choose to walk away from a cross we pay a price
  • We often turn to “rationalization” or to “the letter of the law” to justify actions or situations that we know in our hearts are wrong and don’t satisfy the spirit of the law…
  • The law can’t save us… our intellect can’t save us… only love, forgiveness, compassion and mercy can save us…
  • In other words… Only God can save us from ourselvesthrough the cross
  • As we face the challenges of daily life - Instead of asking “what’s in it for me…” Why don’t we ask “what’s good, and right, and just?”
  • God’s justice calls us to consider the greater good… not our personal advancement…
  • When our personal ambitions and well being are bought at the price of depriving others of a just survival… we violate the principles of the gospel
  • None of us can singlehandedly change the ways of the world… But we can each try to live the values of the gospel in our own lives… and we do this most effectively by embracing our daily crosses one at a time…
  • If we want to learn to carry our daily crosses, we can start with simple acts of kindness, and forgiveness
  • We can choose to let go of grudges, and our need to be in constant control of life
  • As we learn to carry our daily crosses we’re slowly transformed into the person we were created to be
  • Author Mitch Albom, who wrote the book Tuesday’s with Morrie, is writing a new book and in it he makes a very profound statement; he says: “We are defined by what we carry.”
  • The crosses we carry in life, as well as those we refuse to carry, define us… they literally define who and what we are
  • Servant of God Catherine (de Hueck) Doherty said: “What you do matters – but not much.  What you are matters tremendously.”

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