If you are looking at a particular sermon and it is removed it is because it has been updated.

For example Year C 2010 is being replaced week by week with Year C 2013, and so on.

Wednesday, 31 October 2012

All Saints 2012

 ALL SAINTS     2012                                     

 (Revelation 7:2-4, 9-14; 1 John 3:1-3; Matthew 5:1-12)

Today we are celebrating all the saints, all those, that is, who -- known and unknown -- are beloved of God and share in His eternal blessedness by a supremely fulfilling gift of God that can never be lost or taken away, for He is almighty and His will is eternal.  Let us now, therefore, look at those blessed ones we are celebrating and also look closely at the way Jesus traces out for all who would share with them in like blessedness. 
You heard in that first reading something of the glory of heaven:
After this I had a vision of a great multitude which no one could count,  from every nation, race, people, and tongue.  They stood before the throne and before the Lamb … They cried out with a loud voice: "Salvation comes from our God who is seated on the throne, and from the Lamb!"
No racism, no sexism, no privileged groups there, but people from all nations and all times; all of them standing as one before the throne of God with the Lamb their Lord and Saviour, and praising God for the victory He has won for them:
Amen! Blessing and glory, wisdom and thanksgiving, honour, power and might, be to our God forever and ever.  Amen.
It is there, People of God, we, as disciples of Jesus, aspire to go when this, our earthly pilgrimage, is ended.  Don’t think: “I can’t imagine me enjoying an eternity of nothing else but that”, for the only way to appreciate something of heavenly joy is to recall some special moment when you felt yourself both supremely delighted and uplifted: how time then passed by unnoticed and so, so, quickly, as you later realized!  Now the happiness, the blessedness of Heaven is something of that nature: totally overwhelming, uplifting and ecstatic joy that obliterates time!   Such recollections should help you realise that in heaven there can be no such thing as weariness or boredom, for heavenly joy and blessedness is an eternal instant of total ecstasy which has its origin in the vision of the infinite beauty, goodness and glory, of God Himself.
That blessedness, moreover, is not exclusively reserved for heaven; for those who come to some appreciation of the beauty of God’s truth and awareness of His goodness to all who believe in the name of Jesus, can begin to experience something of that blessedness even here on earth, as St. John tells us:
Behold what love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called children of God! Yet so we are!  The reason the world does not know us, is that it did not know Him.  Beloved, we are God’s children now; what we shall be has not yet been revealed.  We do know that when it is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is.  Everyone who has this hope based on Him makes himself pure, as He is pure.
We who believe in the only Son of God who died for our sins and rose again, we who hope in the promises of Him Who is now seated at the right hand of power, are thereby being purified as He is pure, and being blessed with a beginning of the eternal blessedness which is His.  And as, through prayer and faithfulness in the way of Jesus, we deepen our hope, we come to appreciate -- and perhaps even, at times, imagine we experience -- something of that heavenly joy so intimately bound up with the gift and treasure which is our faith.
If, then, you would grow in that foretaste of beatitude, if you would know more of the heavenly joy to which we are all called as Christians, turn your attention now with me to the Gospel and try to understand better the way through life Jesus has marked out for His disciples.
Blessed are the poor in spirit, Blessed are those who mourn, Blessed are the meek, Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, Blessed are the merciful, Blessed are the pure in heart, Blessed are the peacemakers, Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness' sake.
There we have the virtues of the one hundred and forty-four thousand sealed out of all the tribes of Israel as mentioned in the first reading, a wonderful compendium of what is best in the Old Testament: the truest fruits of the Law, the inspirations of prophets, and the meditations of sages; all, indeed, finding expression in the ecstasies of the Psalmists, and leading up to and preparing for that which would be the fulfilment and crown of all that had gone before.  As Jesus said (Matt 5:17):     
I did not come to destroy the Law or the Prophets but to fulfil them.
Now, however, since with Jesus the time of fulfilment has indeed come, instead of simply recalling the disciplines of the Law and the experiences of the prophets, which had gradually prepared a people for the Lord over the course of Old Testament times, Jesus goes one immeasurable step further: revealing Himself as God in flesh and the supreme glory of the disciples standing around Him:
Blessed are you when they insult you and persecute you, and utter every kind of evil against you falsely because of Me.
It is as if He was saying: such, indeed, were the virtues of the OT, but now, for you who are my disciples, your true title to heavenly glory is that you are My disciples.  It is no longer enough to say that you are among the gentle, the poor in spirit, the merciful, for you who listen to Me and who follow Me, are all of that and more: you are My true disciples and that will be your sovereign passport for heaven and title to glory.
Yes, People of God, I am sure that you will appreciate that, in heaven, it is not possible that the meekness, the gentleness, of any of the blessed could be admirable before the God of all holiness.  He is pleased to see such virtues of gentleness, humility, patience, mercifulness, or whatever, but being Himself all-holy, He therefore, most necessarily, sees also the limitations of our virtues, and He loves them best as anticipations of Jesus’ grace, preparations for Him.  However, the fact that someone has personally recognized His incarnate Word in Jesus, that someone has loved and served -- in Jesus -- His beloved and only-begotten Son Personally, that does indeed evoke the Father’s love, for to love His Son supremely here on earth is the summit and culmination of all virtue, including and surpassing all that has gone before, in His eyes.   You who are parents will understand.
Perhaps we can picture it best if we think of a sculptor.  God chose His material, the People of God, the nation of Israel, and through the Law and the Prophets He formed -- as does a sculptor with his chisel -- this block ('stiff-necked people' the prophets called them) gradually into some likeness of the Christ who was to come.  This work, however, was always done from the outside, so to speak, just as the chisel of the artist always chips away from the outside.  When Jesus the Christ -- the Son of God made flesh -- came, however, He gave His divine word to His disciples, to take root in their mind and heart and His example to inspire them.  He finally gave His human life for them, and then, having risen from the dead in the power of the Spirit of God, He ascended to the right hand of His Father, from where He sent His own most Holy Spirit to be with His disciples, making them into one Body, His Body, His Church.  The Holy Spirit was given to remain with His Church, guiding her into all truth and protecting her from the snares of the enemy, and in that continuing task the Spirit works from the inside, in the minds and hearts of the disciples, constantly forming them into a living likeness of Christ, their Lord and Saviour, for the Father:
Among those born of women there has not risen one greater than John the Baptist; but he who is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he.
On the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood, crying out, saying, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me and drink. He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.  But this He spoke concerning the Spirit, whom those believing in Him would receive; for the Holy Spirit was not yet given, because Jesus was not yet glorified.        (Matt 11:11; Jn.7:37s.)
People of God, the glory of our calling, and, indeed, the joy of all the blessed in heaven lies in the fact that, as living members and living likenesses (not plaster-cast copies) of the Son, we are destined to share in His glory, and rejoice in the Father’s love:
You are in Christ Jesus, who became for us wisdom from God -- and righteousness and sanctification and redemption -- that, as it is written, "He who glories, let him glory in the Lord."  (1 Cor. 1:30-31)
In our first reading we heard questions being asked about the blessed in heaven:
Who are these wearing white robes, and where did they come from?
In answer to the first question "who are these wearing white robes?" we can recall that we heard St. John tell us:
Everyone who has this hope based on Him makes himself pure, as He is pure.
So we know now why the blessed are dressed in white robes: they are disciples who, in Jesus and by His Spirit, have purified themselves as He is pure.
But what about that second question, "where did these people come from?"  Here we must bear in mind what Jesus has already told us:
Blessed are you when they insult you and persecute you, and utter every kind of evil against you falsely because of Me.  Rejoice and be glad, for your reward will be great in heaven.
That is where those dressed in white have come from; as the elder in heaven said:
These are the ones who have survived the time of great distress; they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.
Today we have great reason to celebrate: as disciples of Jesus we have already been given a share in heavenly life and blessedness, and we can experience some measure of that blessedness if we purify ourselves, as St. John told us, by trying to walk ever more faithfully in the way of Jesus, and to appreciate ever more deeply the beauty of His truth.  The final washing of our robes, however, will only be brought about through suffering with and for Jesus, as indeed so many of our Catholic and Christian brethren throughout the world are now suffering , as God wills for each and every one of us in our life.
Even here -- such is the blessedness already given us -- we can, in some degree, come to rejoice in our sufferings for Jesus as the apostle Paul assures us:
Just as the sufferings of Christ are ours in abundance, so also our comfort is abundant through Christ. I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed to us.  (2 Corinthians 1:5; Romans 8:18)

Saturday, 27 October 2012

30th Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year B) 2012

Thirtieth Sunday (Year B)

(Jeremiah 31:7-9; Hebrews 5:1-6; Mark 10:46-52)

God’s Chosen People had been banished from their homeland because they had, over many generations, become alienated from the Lord their God by their sinful behaviour.   The Promised Land had been God’s gift to them, but, when they turned away from Him, dishonouring rather than glorifying His holy Name, they lost first His favour and finally the gift with which He had so bountifully endowed them.
Now, in our first reading today from the prophet Jeremiah, God is showing that mercy to His People for which many prophets -- together with holy men and women still to be found among the sinful people -- had long been praying: He is returning His gift, bringing them back to their Promised Land, and thereby inviting them to return to Him with their whole mind and heart.  This physical returning  home was to be an opportunity for them -- back in God’s land -- to hopefully prove themselves more worthy to be God’s Chosen and privileged People.
This physical return was hard, very hard indeed, leading over desert and stony ways: food and drink being necessarily in short supply since, after having had to pay the prices asked for them, they were then obliged to carry those supplies on their own backs as well as on the backs of the few animals they possessed.  Moreover, backs for carrying were not plentiful since they were returning with some treasured possessions, and, above all, they were carrying infants and nurslings; moreover, there were many who could not carry anything at all being either blind, lame, sick, too old, or else heavily pregnant.  For all these reasons food and drink had to be strictly limited for a journey that was long, over territory that was difficult, and under conditions of great heat during the day and penetrating cold at night.
Those difficulties, however, were not the only nor the greatest ones encountered by the returning exiles; for, although the physical trials of that trek back to Israel were great, nevertheless, it was a journey completed in a period of months; whereas on arrival in their homeland once more, there would be many and greater difficulties concerning rebuilding and restoration which would take years to resolve.
Above all, however, the very greatest challenge facing them would be from their own wayward hearts and minds, for they still had to return to the Lord their God in spirit and in truth.  The physical return home was indeed their great opportunity, but a truly successful return would not to be accomplished without years of social endeavour, and even more years of private, soul-searching, obedience and heart-felt prayer, all finding fitting expression in reverent and sincere public worship in the Temple.
With weeping they shall come, and with consolations/supplications I will lead them back.
That is the experience, even today, of many who, for whatever reason, leave Mother Church, and then are led, by the great mercy of God, to return to the fold: their absence has changed them, and, during that absence, Mother Church herself has changed, inevitably, since she is a living Church surrounded by, and responding to, a world in flux.  And even though such changes might, perhaps, only have been slight, nevertheless, they are not imperceptible to those sensitized by trial, with the result that some aspects of Church life may seem less familiar, less homely, than before, whilst other changes might even seem to strike an alien note to, or disturbing chord with, the hopes of those returning wanderers.
However, changes in ones’ self and changes in the Church are not the only sources of difficulties for exiles returning home; their return can be made more difficult and trying by one thing that changes most reluctantly, human nature: their own human nature and that of others.
And here we must notice the wisdom and the beauty of the Gospel account: for we are not told either that Jesus rebuked ‘the rebukers’, or that Bartimaeus took any notice of them:
As Jesus was leaving Jericho with His disciples and a sizable crowd, Bartimaeus -- a blind man, the son of Timaeus -- sat by the roadside begging.  On hearing that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to cry out and say, “Jesus, son of David, have pity on me.”  And many rebuked him, telling him to be silent.  But he kept calling all the more, “Son of David, have pity on me!”
It was between Bartimaeus and Jesus and that is how it remained.
It is easy for those ‘returning from exile’ to allow themselves to be too aware of, or subject to, the attitude of ‘onlookers’.  On the one hand their own nervousness may make them touchy, or their self-love bolster itself with a whiff of pride more easily than admit a trace of noticeable contrition; and on the other hand, while a small minority might be critical, most -- though wanting be welcoming and helpful -- may not always know how best to show their understanding and sympathy, or simply let their own loving acceptance speak – without their words -- for itself.
Now it is undeniably the case that all of us, even those who have never been separated from Mother Church, are exiles returning to their Father, because all of us have experienced that sense of alienation from God which either personal sin, or the surrounding -- ever-threatening and secretly-encroaching -- worldliness inevitably bring with them.
Moreover, we have before us a totally new and unimaginable promise and prospect, for we are now called to prepare ourselves, or rather, to allow ourselves to be prepared for, not simply a return to the natural condition of Adam -- originally the friend of God -- but to the supernatural condition of children of the heavenly Father, through sharing, by the Spirit, in the eternal glory of Jesus, the only-begotten Son of God.   We have to make a journey not like that of the Israelites of old, simply across perhaps unknown, though most certainly not unfamiliar, territory to a land we had once wandered and worked before losing, but one into totally strange and unknown ‘territory’ because it is supernatural and heavenly, one which our imagination finds impossible to foreshadow, one with which it cannot, In any way, familiarise us.  We can aspire to undertake such a journey only out of love for, and confidence in, Jesus; moreover, it is one we can actually make only in the power of His Spirit.
We were told in the second reading:
Every high priest is taken from among men and made their representative before God, to offer gifts and sacrifices for sins.   No one takes this honour upon himself but only when called by God.
Jesus, our Brother, offered His gifts to the Father for us, since all of us had been exiled from the Father by sin.  Only infinite love -- the love that Jesus alone could offer -- could wipe out the insult of sin and fittingly respond to that heavenly invitation.    But if Jesus was to give, express, divine love in and through His human body it could only be by His bursting the limitations of that body, committing it to His Father’s supreme glory.  His human love for the Father entailed the ultimate price: His crucified Body and Blood poured out.  In that way He won for all of us exiles that first gift of the Spirit, that original inspiration, to start us out on the way back to our Father in Mother Church.  Thanks to the supreme prayer of Jesus and His ‘Sacrifice of Self’ on Calvary -- the sacrifice made available and effective for all ages in Mother Church’s continuous offering of Holy Mass -- we too can gain a hearing  when we pray, as His disciples, Lord have mercy on me.
Having, in the name of Jesus, gained a hearing, and having begun our return in Him and with Him to the Father, we have to persevere throughout a long, and at times difficult, journey, overcoming -- as did those returning exiles in the first reading -- trials from both without and within ourselves.  Thanks be to God, in Mother Church, at Holy Mass, all of us who are, to whatever degree, alienated from the Father by our sinfulness, can draw near and call out to Jesus as did Bartimeus on hearing the noise of the crowd, because Jesus at Holy Mass is so close at hand and so ready to hear our cries and answer us, as He did so long ago:
"What do you want Me to do for you?" The blind man replied to Him, "Master, I want to see!"  
What would you have asked for in such a situation, People of God?  What do you, in fact, ask of Jesus at Holy Mass?  Each of us is making his or her own journey to the Father, and each and every one of us has his or her own difficulties to overcome; but whatever our needs and whatever the request we might ask of Jesus, let us remember and learn from what we are told about Bartimeus, for Scripture says that:
Many rebuked him, telling him to be silent; but he kept calling out all the more, "Son of David, have pity on me!"
People of God, in our present situation under a positively secular-minded and anti-religious government there is much opposition and ridicule both public and in private for those who would serve God and conscience first and foremost.  Whatever opposition you may encounter, whatever the difficulties and disappointments you may experience, keep your hopes firmly fixed on Jesus, like Bartimeus, and pray that despite all, through all, you might be enabled to hear and see well enough to follow the Spirit of Jesus ever more closely along His way that leads ultimately into the presence of the Father.
We are now surrounded by people who profess themselves satisfied by what they think they know, and assert themselves able to do all things necessary to sufficiently advance their own purposes and achieve their own goals; their wise ones acknowledge no truth beyond their own ken, their mighty ones, no realms beyond the reach of their abilities.  Consequently, they cannot understand, and indeed tend to dismiss or despise, those of us who -- as Christians -- look to Jesus to give us, by His Spirit, insight to recognize what is true, strength to walk along His way towards its attainment, and ultimately to enjoy its fulfilment in His Father’s Kingdom.
This process, in alien surroundings, of becoming one with Jesus in love for the Father and the service of our fellows, is never-ending while we are still on earth; and it is one that can only be accomplished in us, through us, and for us, thanks to the Holy Spirit -- the Personal bond of love between the Father and the Son -- bequeathed to us in Mother Church by Jesus.  He is the Spirit whereby the love and the truth of Jesus are sublimely active and effective in overcoming the sin of the world; the Spirit whereby Jesus is able to comfort all who look to Him for salvation and cry to Him with focussed love and confidence, using like words to those He addessed to Bartimaeus:
            Go, carry on, your way; your faith and My Spirit will save y

Saturday, 20 October 2012

29th Sunday in Ordinary time (Year B) 2012

Twenty-ninth Sunday (Year B)

 (Isaiah 53:10-11; Hebrews 4:14-16; Mark 10:35-45)

St. Matthew (6:33) tells us that Jesus once said:
Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be given you besides. 
In today’s Gospel reading we are told of two brothers apparently following that advice; James and John, members of Jesus’ most intimate circle of disciples, ask for a place, a really special place, in the Kingdom:
They said to Jesus, "Grant in Your glory that we may sit, one at Your right hand and the other at Your left."
However, in their eagerness to set about seeking the kingdom of God, as Jesus said, they failed to take sufficiently into consideration the fact that He also taught that the search for the kingdom of God should go hand in hand with a search for the righteousness of God:
Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness. 
James and John wanted Jesus to grant them prestigious seats in the glory of God’s Kingdom on the basis of favouritism or special privilege; Jesus said that they were not His to give in such a way, they could only be bestowed on the basis of the righteous judgement of the all-holy God.
The brothers had asked for something good in the wrong way: asking for places in the Kingdom of the heavenly Father, without manifesting a corresponding desire to share in His righteousness.  This is clearly shown in their glib response to the awesome question Jesus subsequently put to them:
Can you drink the cup that I drink, or be baptized with the baptism with which I am baptized?
They immediately answered that they could indeed drink His cup and be baptized with His baptism; and they said this on the basis of their own self-confident appreciation of the love they felt for Jesus.  They were doing just what Peter would do later on:
Peter said to Jesus, "Lord, I am ready to go with You, both to prison and to death; even if I have to die with You, I will not deny You!  Even if all are made to stumble, yet I will not be."  (Luke 22:33; Matt. 26:35; Mark 14:29)
Then, however, Peter would be speaking after hearing that Jesus was being threatened with death: it was a spontaneous and heartfelt protestation of immediate concern and love.  It was, indeed, also an ill-considered promise of personal fidelity far beyond him, but Peter could be excused somewhat in that over-statement and over-appreciation of his own powers because he was being impelled and compelled by his anxiety for Jesus under threat of violent death.  James and John, however, had no such laudable motivation for their considered, over-zealous, and over-confident words, unduly, though not exclusively, motivated by the desire to be greatest, which, Mark tells us, had already shown itself previously:
Jesus asked the disciples, "What were you arguing about on the way?" But they remained silent.  They had been discussing among themselves on the way who was the greatest. (Mark 9:33-35)
Despite Jesus’ explicit teaching – if anyone wishes to be first of all he shall be last of all and servant of all -- James and John still hankered after the position of the ‘greatest’.  As yet, they knew little about seeking the righteousness of the Father, and Jesus would have to teach them about it to the very end, as we find at the Last Supper in His sacerdotal prayer before the whole gathering:
Righteous Father, the world does not know You, but I know You; and these  k+
now that You sent Me.  I made known to them Your name, and I will make it known. (John 17:25-26)
Jesus consistently attributed nothing to Himself, openly saying:
No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him; and I will raise him up on the last day. (John 6:44)
All that the Father gives Me will come to Me, and I will not reject anyone who comes to Me, because I came down from heaven, not to do My own will, but the will of the One who sent Me. (John 6:37-38)
Clearly, Jesus did not consider that, whether by His preaching, His miracles, or by His Personality, He would effectively and decisively draw disciples to Himself; no, only those sent by the Father would come to Him until such time as He Himself should be lifted up (John 12:32):
            When I am lifted up from the earth I will draw everyone to myself.
A like attitude, concern, is manifest in Jesus’ death.  We were told in the prophecy of Isaiah concerning the Suffering Servant, the future Messiah … concerning Jesus:
            The LORD was pleased to crush Him in infirmity.
Though Son and Saviour, Jesus did not take upon Himself weakness, suffering, and grief; it was the path traced out for Him by His Father.  He was indeed prepared for it but He did not seek it out … all He wanted was to do His Father’s will: He would lovingly accept it in fulfilment of His Father’s plans, for His Father’s glory, and as the supreme human expression of His love for and trust in His Father.
And so the prophet went on:
If (in loving response to His Father) He gives His life as an offering for sin, He shall see His descendants in a long life.
All would then happen, the prophet tells us, in such a way that:
The will of the LORD shall be accomplished through Him.
That was His example of seeking the righteousness of the Father; an example that needed to be closely observed, secretly pondered, and ultimately imitated, by those impetuous brothers James and John, as indeed by all the disciples.
 However, Jesus could only guide to such sublime perfection disciples who were eager to learn: and that is why He was secretly pleased with the ardent desire of Peter, James, and John, and indeed of all His closest disciples, to be great in the Kingdom of God.  Initially, through their ignorance, such desires appeared to be little better than merely human ambition seeking superiority and precedence; Jesus, however, knew that deep down they were the expression – temporarily tarnished indeed -- of the disciples overwhelming desire to share with Him, to be united, as closely as possible, with Him, on earth as in heaven; and such desires could -- like diamonds -- be skilfully cut and purified before finally being polished to perfection by the divine artificer.
Today, however, few want to be great in the kingdom of God; so very few have faith in, and love for, Jesus deep enough to make them long, desire, and ultimately will, to cling to Him in their passing experience of earthly sufferings so as to share with Him in His eternal, heavenly, glory.  Such a desire is fundamental, and the lack of it cannot be compensated for easily or quickly, just as an athlete cannot train without first having a good bone and healthy muscular structure to begin working with.
At times this apparent lack of love for, commitment to, Jesus results from a relatively innocent and understandable fear of standing out from friends for fear of losing their companionship: this can happen easily enough with young people today.  Again, there are others ... good, Christian and Catholic people … who tend, in their spiritual naivety and ill-conceived humility, to think along lines such as: “Who am I to think that I can become anything special?” They are right to a certain degree, of course; but they are, more seriously, wrong; since God is the supreme potter with the unique ability and exclusive right to shape His chosen clay as He wills:
According to the eternal purpose that He accomplished in Christ Jesus Our Lord. (Ephesians 3:11)
And there are yet others who, amazingly, seem to think that to aspire higher in their spiritual life would somehow be pretentious disloyalty to themselves: “This is my character, if I tried to be otherwise it would not be the real me!”
Whereas the young persons’ fear of standing out, alone, is understandable, bearing in mind the general weakness of our human nature and their own personal immaturity and lack of experience; with the other two examples, however, we find the Devil more insidiously at work, doing what he usually tries to do: pass himself -- his suggestions and his impulses -- off as virtuous, even holy.
People of God, all of us, like James and John, have faith in Jesus, and all of us, on the basis of that faith, should want, indeed aspire, to be true disciples of Jesus, longing to be as close to Him as possible here on earth and for all eternity, because our supreme destiny is that we be found, in Him, to be true children of our Father in heaven.  A desire for such greatness is no disloyalty to our fellows, neither is it a forgetting of our true situation, or a lying representation of our real self; rather, it is the only true recognition of, and response to, the fact that we are created in the image and likeness of God, and that we have been redeemed by the suffering, death, and resurrection of Jesus Our Lord for the glory of His Father and the fulfilment of our God-given being. As you heard in the second reading:
Since we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast to our confession.
Yes, let us, out of love for Jesus and our heavenly Father, strive to follow where He has gone before us.   Do not let the Devil -- with weasel words of mock humility or serpentine suggestions of twisted fidelity -- try to persuade you to idly and comfortably go through life like everybody else; or, under the devilish pretext of remaining true to yourself, lead you to neglect the God-given opportunity to discover and realise your only true self, originally planned for God’s own presence, and created in His own likeness.  God has, indeed, made you in His own image: you are individuals, not like anyone else, and because Jesus has died for you personally, He alone commands your supreme loyalty.  He has risen and gone to heaven to prepare your place in heaven: do not betray Him for the sake of what would be, ultimately, a contemptible fear of standing out from others or a ludicrously tragic self-deception trade-marked by Lucifer himself.  Only when you strive to follow Jesus with your whole heart will you find your true self, divinely commissioned before time began; only when you commit yourself, alone with Jesus, to the Father, will you become a member of the heavenly family with the hosts of saints and angels for your true companions and enduring friends.
This living of the Christian life, this chosen contentment with Jesus above all, for the Father, might indeed bring the cross into our lives as you have heard from today’s readings, but it is the Cross of Jesus, and our bearing and sharing in that Cross is really our passport to eternal life and fulfilment:
The Spirit Himself testifies with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, heirs also, heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him so that we may also be glorified with Him.  For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed to us. (Romans 8:16-18)