The 14th Sunday in Ordinary Time [C]

The 14th Sunday in Ordinary Time [C]
Isaiah 66:10-14  +  Galatians 6:14-18  +  Luke 10:1-9 
July 7, 2019

I bear the marks of Jesus on my body.

Saint Paul tells us today about a spiritual gift that he received from God.  This gift is called the “stigmata”, which refers to the Christ’s wounds from the Crucifixion.  Very few saints have received this gift.  But in case we’re tempted to think of the stigmata as something merely cosmetic—that is, as if it were only scars—we ought to realize that along with the wounds of His crucifixion came also the physical pain of such wounds.

When we keep in mind what it means for a person to bear the stigmata, it’s more meaningful to hear St. Paul declare, “May I never boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world.”  The stigmata, and all the pain and disfigurement that accompany them, sharply distinguish the world from the person who bears these marks.

Nonetheless, fallen human nature is powerful in its “fallen-ness”.  Try to imagine, if you can, someone who has the five marks of the stigmata on his own body, but doesn’t even notice them.  That’s pretty hard to imagine.  We might be able to imagine someone who is absent-minded not noticing someone next to him bearing the stigmata, but it’s nearly impossible to imagine that happening to someone who has those wounds on his own limbs.

Since you and I are not likely to be given the marks of the stigmata, we might think it a waste of time to speculate about such matters.  But bring the subject closer to home:  if you do not have to deal with the stigmata, what about the wounds caused by your sins?

Personal sins may not often cause physical wounds, but they do cause wounds of other types.  These wounds often go either unnoticed by us, or ignored.  Perhaps this is because the pain seems greater if we acknowledge it, or perhaps because acknowledging the pain would imply the need for some sort of action on our part.  We easily look past our sins and their effects on our selves and others.

All this is to say that in dealing with the wounds that mark our souls, we have a radical choice to make.  Each of us has to decide by what means to deal with these wounds.  Our Savior Jesus Christ, and his apostle St. Paul in our Second Reading today, suggest that we deal with these wounds through the power of the Cross.

What does St. Paul mean when he claims that through “the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ… the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world”?  Consider the explanation of “The Way of the Cross” offered by the 20th century Carmelite friar, Father Gabriel of St. Mary Magdalen, OCD in his masterpiece Divine Intimacy:

“We must be thoroughly convinced that if the Holy Spirit works in our souls to [conform] us to Christ, He can do so only by opening to us the way of the Cross.  Jesus is Jesus crucified; therefore, there can be no conformity to Him except by the Cross, and we shall never enter into the depths of the spiritual life except by entering into the mystery of the Cross.  St. Teresa of [Avila] teaches that even the highest… graces are given to souls only in order to enable them to carry the Cross.  ‘His Majesty,’ says [Teresa], ‘can do nothing greater for us than to grant us a life which is an imitation of that lived by His beloved Son.  I feel certain, therefore, that… favors are given to us to strengthen our weakness, so that we may be able to imitate Him in His great sufferings’ [Interior Castle VII, 4].”

This coming week, say your daily prayers on your knees in front of a crucifix.  If because of health you’re unable to kneel, take a picture of the Crucifixion and put it before you, and look at this image of Jesus dying for you on the Cross as you offer all your prayers through the power of the Cross.

click HERE to watch Jeff Cavins’ reflection for this liturgical Sunday (4:56)

click HERE to watch the homily of Bishop Thomas Olmsted for this Sunday (9:40)

click HERE to watch the homily of Archbishop José Gomez for this Sunday (11:55)

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click HERE to read Pope Francis’ 2013 homily for this Sunday

click HERE to read Pope Emeritus Benedict’s 2007 Angelus address for this Sunday

click HERE to read St. John Paul II’s 1990 encyclical about “the permanent validity of the Church’s missionary mandate”

St. Francis of Assisi receiving the five stigmata