There is in today’s readings a reminder of God’s fidelity even through our
experiencing the sufferings of our being faithful. We are encouraged by the
liturgy’s readings to say in our actions who Jesus is. He suffered because
he knew who he was and remained himself through to the end.
We are invited to pray for constancy in living our faith. We pray for the
patience to live compassionately with God’s call and the wanderingness of
our response. “Every day” is a long time. We pray to do it one time at a
time. The One who calls is compassionate and patient. We pray to receive,
believe and live towards the glory of his Resurrection.
What we hear in today’s first reading from Zechariah seems, at first, to
be doomful and sad. The chapter from which these few verses are taken is
an oracle pronouncing that God will restore Judah and the great city of Jerusalem.
All the other clans and peoples who have been attacking the city will become
blind and full of madness, but upon Jerusalem, a great spirit of peace and
prayer will descend. Jerusalem itself is to be looked upon as having been
attacked, pierced and to be mourned over as if dead.
God is pledging a renewal of spirit upon Jerusalem and the Davidic line of
leadership and holiness. There has been suffering and mourning, but something
new will rise and the nation, under God, will rise and be greater than all
other clans and nations.
Today’s Gospel is a continuation of the Gospel for last-week’s celebration
of Corpus Christi Sunday. The Apostles have fed the five thousands with miraculous
bread and fish. They have collected the fragments and then begin a “shared-prayer”
session with Jesus. He has been praying by himself and they gather around,
probably to ask him how he did that miracle. The crowds remain at a distance,
so Jesus asks them what the people in that crowd were saying about him. They
give him the report about who people were saying he might be. After listening
a while, Jesus asks them, more personally, about who they think he is. Peter
speaks up with an answer which will cost him his living and his life.
After Peter declares Jesus to be the Christ, Jesus speaks to them for the
first time about his own awareness that he will have to suffer and die, but
on the third day he will be raised to live. Jesus will remind the apostles
two more times of his destiny and call.
Then Jesus speaks to the Apostles and the crowd as well. It is a proposal
one can refuse very easily. Daily picking up the cross of faith, and gaining
one’s life by losing it for His sake, does not sound healthy or attractive.
The apostles would have felt pretty good after handing out all the bread
and fish the crowd could eat. They were delighting in giving life to others.
Jesus turns it all a little bit by telling them that to really be a disciple
of his would involve giving the “crowd” even more than bread for life, but
their very lives as bread. Every day, they would be invited to follow Jesus’
laying down his life. Their high spirits probably took a dip at these words.
Being generous with bread and fish is one thing, living generously even to
death is more than another thing.
Jesus is the Christ of God every day and continues giving his life-bread
to us. This allowing of Jesus to be the Christ for us and the reason we would
lose our lives to gain that life, this is our life’s cross and struggle.
The problem is that we do not know how well we are doing in this process
of gaining our lives by losing them. We do not know if we are carrying our
crosses well enough every day to be Jesus’ disciples.
Perhaps this is the great cross then, trusting that not knowing, but trying
to let Jesus more into our daily lives and through the actions of our every
day, is holiness. Each of us knows somewhat how we try to gain in our lives
and how we drop or retire from cross-carrying every day. It is not our fidelity
to our dying which brings forth God’s faithfulness. Israel was not perfect,
yet God poured faithful love in restoring her. Jesus was faithful to his
apostles even when they refused to look upon the one who had been pierced.
Fidelity to Jesus has much to do with being faithful to his being faithful
to us. When the sufferings of trying to lose our lives for his sake become
too much to carry, these are the times when Jesus is more dramatically our
The horizontal and vertical cross of our lives is the coexistence of our
being so much of the level earth and so much of the elevated divine. That
cross meets where we live and where we are invited to proclaim, that right
there, Jesus is the Christ of God. He embraced forever our conflicted condition
and invites us every day to keep trying to live the elevated way, while living
the horizontal. Dying to ourselves means letting go of accumulating life,
establishing credibility, and proving that we are more than we are. We are
who we are by the grace of God and that is the blessing of our daily cross.
“The eyes of all look to you, O Lord, and you give them food in
due season.” Ps. 145:15