Homily Notes: A Sliver of the Cross

September 15, 2022 – Memorial of Our Lady of Sorrows

I will be preaching at the all-school Mass at Guerin Catholic HS in Noblesville this morning. We will be using the readings for the Memorial of Our Lady of Sorrows. Here are some thoughts I’ll be sharing:

Yesterday the Church celebrated the Feast of the Exaltation of the Cross and today, the Memorial of Our Lady of Sorrows. Both days are focused on the cross of Jesus and the suffering associated with it. Jesus was tortured and then nailed to the wood of the cross. We can only imagine the suffering He endured. And today we focus on Mary, at the foot of that very same cross, suffering the death of her son.

I had never made the connection between these two suffering feast days being back-to-back on the Church calendar. It intrigued me, so I did some research. One article I read called the time period of the two feast days “the week in the shadow of the cross.” The word shadow implies a darkness and fits well with the suffering associated with the cross.

Why we suffer is a challenging question. To fully explain the Church’s teachings on suffering – referred to as redemptive suffering – would be impossible in the time we have this morning. Instead, I want to focus on HOW we suffer.

As believers, we are encouraged – like Mary – to bring our suffering to the foot of the cross. Don’t we want to bring our suffering to someone that understands? Someone that has endured great suffering Himself? There is consolation in knowing Jesus will understand.

The idea is not to pray to Jesus to end the suffering, but rather to invite Him into the suffering with you – to ask Him to walk through the suffering with you, to take a “sliver of the cross” (a term from the article I read) with you on the journey.

I was talking with a co-worker yesterday. Three people very close to her have died in the past year. She is suffering. In the course of the conversation, I shared that two close family members of mine are suffering right now – and when someone we love is suffering, we suffer too. Each of us felt better after speaking to one another because we knew the other understood.

Both of us shared that our faith has helped us endure the suffering. We asked the rhetorical question, “How do people without faith in Jesus make it through their suffering?” We couldn’t imagine not having Jesus at our side to share in our suffering.

We often see an image of a hand reaching out of the water – presumably our hand as if we are “drowning” – and the hand of Jesus coming out of the sky to pull us out.

When it comes to suffering, perhaps a better image would be Jesus diving in with us – not to end our suffering, but to keep our heads above water and help us get through it – to stay with us until we eventually get to dry land.

Bring your suffering to the foot of the Cross. Take a sliver of His cross with you on the journey.

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