Today’s readings along with the other readings of this week speak of the last days, of suffering and of the cost of being a disciple of Christ. It is somewhat difficult to hear and take to heart these readings, just as it must have been difficult for the Apostles in Jesus’ time. In today’s Gospel, Jesus tells the Apostles and us that we will be persecuted and suffer because of our Faith. The words carry an important message, reminding us that it is the cross that marks us as Christian and that accepting the cross means we accept our Christianity. The good news is that the Gospel also tell us that even though families might reject and desert us, Jesus will always be there for us, and that if we persevere, we will have everlasting life.
This last week of the liturgical year is a good time to appreciate the wisdom of the Church in giving us this cyclical liturgical year. Just as God has given us the seasons that make up our seasons of the year to guide our physical life, the Church gives us the seasons of the liturgical year to guide our spiritual life. Each season should evoke in us a response in the way we pray. In Advent, we pray filled with hope, seeking the Light, and during the Christmas season, our prayer celebrates that Light given to us in Christ’s birth. In Ordinary time, we pray for an understanding and growth in our faith as we listen to the lessons of the Gospel that Christ shared with His Apostles. In Lent, we pray to atone for our sins and to purify our souls. And at the Triduum, we pray that we can accept suffering knowing that it brings Resurrection. Our prayers celebrate the glory of the Resurrection and give thanks for the gifts of the Holy Spirit, and we follow Jesus’ admonition to "preach the Gospel to all nations…" Back to Ordinary time, where now we hear Jesus’ words calling us to a life of care for our brothers and sisters and we realize that we also pray with our actions. And our prayer journey continues until again we finish our liturgical year prayerfully hearing Jesus’ admonitions to be prepared and to trust always in our God whose works are great and wonderful!
Mary Lou Butler is a long-time friend and partner in ministry to the Passionists in California.