I’d like to turn the focus to our second reading today, taken from Paul’s letter to the Corinthians. Because it is perhaps the pinnacle of Christian literature. St. Paul tells us that the crucified one is the stumbling block, the absurdity for the unbeliever. But to those who are graced and gifted with faith, this is the power and wisdom of God.

St. Paul always speaks about his experience. He has known the peaks and valleys of life. He has been on top and cast down. But his faith in Christ remains steadfast. Time and time again he reminds us that the crucified Jesus is always the source of his strength.

A professor who taught me the New Testament used to say in his private moments, “It is the cross that leads me to believe that, if not for Jesus, I would be an atheist. Jesus gives me the only God I can believe in; a God of love that is revealed in suffering.”

Christianity has a very specific understanding of God. He is not a God who throws thunderbolts into peoples’ lives. He is not a teddy bear God. He is not an unknown God. As Christians, we believe that he God we find in the Gospel is, above all, a God of love. A love that was revealed in the suffering on the cross. The cross is an essential aspect of Jesus revealing God to us.

The cross plunges deeply into the reality of God, almost like a dagger. And what it reveals about God is extraordinary. It tells us that our God is not unaffected by our suffering; not unaffected by our way of life; not unaffected by what happens to us. It tells us that He was prepared to become one of us. It tells us that in order to reconcile us to Himself, He was willing to undergo the most painful form of death ever thought of. This is the God who embraces our lives in Jesus of Nazareth.

In his passion narrative, St. John highlights that what Jesus did more supremely than anything else was love. When Jesus knew that His hour had come, to pass out of the world to the Father, He loved until the very end. He loved us to the utmost limit of love. Loved totally; loved to death.

St. Paul once wrote, “Show me a Man writhing on a cross in agony, and I will be moved to pity, horror and disgust. But show me a Man writhing on a cross, surrendering His body to crucifixion because He loved me, and I will be drawn to belief. To self-giving; to love in return.”

During the Mass, we can see, in a striking way, how the cross and the Eucharist interlock. That breathless moment when time turns back and Calvary comes alive in the greatest words of love ever spoken: “This is My body, which is given up for you. This is my blood, which is shed for you.”

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One thought on “Fr. Bob’s Homily – Third Sunday of Lent

  1. Thank you from Elmhurst (Chicago) IL. I look forward to hearing your comments every day!

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