Homily Notes: Patience and the Redemption of the World

Reflection on the Cross

For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. For it is written:
“I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, And bring to nothing the understanding of the prudent.”
Where is the wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the disputer of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of this world? For since, in the wisdom of God, the world through wisdom did not know God, it pleased God through the foolishness of the message preached to save those who believe. For Jews request a sign, and Greeks seek after wisdom; but we preach Christ crucified, to the Jews a stumbling block and to the Greeks foolishness, but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God.
1 Corinthians 1:18-25


Reading the Gospel at St. Mary’s; the parish children and lay leaders gather around the Gospel with candles.

What do we believe; Christ crucified and risen; and us risen in Him. This is what we affirm in coming here each Sunday (you can “meet God” anywhere); more than affirming it, we make it real in our lives when we gather in His name and participate in His death and resurrection through the Eucharist.

So why is this – our faith in the death and resurrection of the God-man Christ – foolishness to the world? Because we want to find answers in wisdom (secularism/politics/policy) or in signs (spiritualism/mysticism); but what does God give us?

The witness and reality of the Crucified and Risen God-man… and a promise.

This is the Gospel we live and this is the Gospel that we preach (and when we have to, we use words; St. Francis of Assissi). This is how the Lord has transformed His faithful from sinners into saints, this is how he exercises His desire that “all men be saved”, and it is through the Cross that He is redeeming the entire cosmos (as Fr. Michael Oleksa described yesterday).

How can we “take up the cross” of our own crucifixion so that we might live our unity with God through Christ? What does this look like in our day to day lives? What is it we do that confounds the materialists and spiritualists of the world? How is it that we can bring about the salvation of our souls, spread salvation to fallen mankind, and participate in the redemption of the entire cosmos?

We take up the cross – we live the life in Christ – by suffering for others. Not physical agony (at least not often… although we should learn to suffer well for the sake of others), but through the mental agony and spiritual temptation … of patience. Yes, patience; unwavering, long-suffering, immovable patience. And this patience is especially powerful – and difficult – when it hurts our pride and our egos give us reasons to rebel – and FIGHT!

As St. Paul said; “The strong bear the burdens of the weak.” Those who live in love bear the assaults of those who do not… and through this sacrifice the world is transformed (“the deeper magic”).

Here is a beautiful image of this from St. John Chrysostom’s homily on today’s reading;

Image from http://www.wikihow.com/Deal-With-Unruly-Children

Image from http://www.wikihow.com/Deal-With-Unruly-Children

“Do we not see when little children being borne in their father’s arms give him that carries them blows on the cheek, how sweetly the father lets the boy have his fill of wrath, and when he sees that he has spent his passion, how his countenance brightens up? In like manner let us also act; and as fathers with children, so let us discourse with the Greeks. For all the Greeks are children. “

Our firm and resolved patience are the father’s arms. Everyone we meet is the child we are designed and called to love.

Christ moves most strongly through patient, long-suffering, and sacrificial love, not powerful arguments. May He move through us!