THEME: This Is Gonna Get Messy
BY: Deacon Bill Frere
HOMILY FOR FRIDAY AUGUST 5 2022
Gospel – Matthew 16:24-28
Apparently we are living in an age of superheroes. Avengers, Justice League, Guardians of the Galaxy, just to name a few! Only last week, Marvel Studios announced plans for at least 15 more Avenger movies.
For me, this brings me back to childhood and my fascination with comic books. My dad always had a stack of them for sale in his store. Whenever he received a new supply, I got the chance to read them all before they went on sale. Lucky me! What occurs to me, though, is that in all those comics, no matter what battle Superman, Batman, or Green Lantern (my favorite) were engaged in, at the end of the conflict, they always looked perfect – no splatters on their uniform, no rips, no tears, nothing out of place! It was never a messy universe that these heroes lived in! If only!
Life is hard. I don’t really need to tell you this. Unless you’ve been living on a deserted island for the past 2 ½ years, you already know that. Fear, isolation, sickness, separation, anxiety, loss, feeling financially and spiritually poor, even depression! We have all been there, wondering what’s next and looking for that light at the end of this long dark tunnel. We sit with this dazed expression on our face wondering what’s next for us and our families and loved ones.
The disciples must have experienced something like this; they have already had their share of being cast out of villages, banned from the Temple, ignored and laughed at for leaving their families to follow this itinerant preacher. And then in today’s Gospel, Jesus tells them bluntly that things will get worse. If you really want to follow Me, then you must deny yourself and take up your cross. Things are gonna get tougher! Things are gonna get messy! Certainly not the best of pep talks, eh?
It reminds me of something I say at committal services when I speak about Jesus raising Lazarus from the dead, a reminder to us all that Jesus is both divine and human. He knew Lazarus was dead and He cried. He knew that moments later He would raise Lazarus from the dead and yet He still cried. He knew death was not forever but the Kingdom is! And He cried. He cried because knowing the end of the story is the Kingdom doesn’t mean you don’t cry at the sad parts.
This is one of those sad parts but it is not the end of the story!
We are all called to be disciples (superheroes). But unlike any comic/movie superhero, we will experience pain and suffering. We will bear scars and wounds! Our ‘uniforms’ are gonna get dirty and ragged! To be a true follower of Jesus, yes, it will not be easy. But even in today’s Gospel, Jesus reminds them that there is also reward; so be strong! Do not let your troubles disturb your trust in God.
Slow me down, Lord! Help me today to look beyond the overwhelming issues of the world and appreciate the simple gifts of life and love, of family and friends, and of Your presence in all I see and do!
Deacon Bill Frere