12th Sunday Ordinary Time

12th Sunday Ordinary Time

Vol. 5 No. 41

Luke 9:18-24
June 19, 2016

In the Gospel for this Sunday, Jesus tells each of his disciples that if he wishes to follow Him,
each of them must deny himself, take up his cross daily and follow me (Lk. 9:23). This sounds
daunting. The truth is, though, that God gives His followers the grace to do whatever He asks of
them. He gives this supernatural help daily and in a special way, in our Baptism ( Catechism of
the Catholic Church, 881).

Through this Sunday’s readings, we remember the special grace which God gave us in our Baptism. The graces which we received in our Baptism are meant to purify and strengthen us for life in Christ. In our Baptism, each of us is called by God, belongs to (thirsts for) God and is filled by God. We will go through each of these three realities as we take a closer look at this Sunday’s readings. When we recall and live in the truth that we are called by God, belong to (thirst for) God and are filled by God, we can more willingly and lovingly surrender to JesusÕ call to follow Him, even when it involves daily self denial.

I am called by God
In our Baptism, we were called by God by our names. We were baptized in God’s name. We
became His own children. The second reading, from St. Paul, says, “For through faith you are
all children of God in Christ Jesus. 27 For all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed
yourselves with Christ” (Gal. 3:2627). This chapter begins with St. Paul reminding the
Galatians of their spiritual birth and adoption as Abraham’s children (Gal. 3:7). Paul reminds them of their deepest identity. They are God’s own children. Paul goes on to describe the Galatian’s identity, 28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free person, there is not male and female. for you are all one in Christ Jesus. 29 And if you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s descendant, heirs according to the promise” (Gal. 3:2829).

According to St. Paul,
the acceptance of God’s call in becoming a beloved son or daughter of God is the most
essential part of who one is. It is deeper than one’s nationality, social status, ethnic group or
whether one is male or female.
The first reading, from the prophet Zechariah, foretells the Sacrament of Baptism, 10” I will pour out on the house of David and on the inhabitants of Jerusalem a spirit of mercy and supplication” (Zec. 12:10a). Through the sacrament of Baptism, we receive mercy through the forgiveness of our sins. This spirit of mercy and supplication (or spirit of grace and petition in other translations) has its source in Christ’s own Passion and Death as Zechariah prophesies, “they will look on him whom they have thrust through (Zec. 12:10b). The image of Jesus pierced side comes to mind. Zechariah continues, “On that day a fountain will be opened for the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem, to purify from sin and uncleanness” (Zec. 13:1). Many of the early Church Fathers, such as St. Ambrose, St. Augustine and St. John Chrysostom, regarded the water which flowed from Christ’s side on the cross as a foreshadowing of the sacrament of Baptism (Jn. 19:34. Milward). From Christ’s pierced side comes His mercy, love and forgiveness. Through the gift of our Baptism, we are also given the grace to show mercy to others. We truly become sons and daughters of God. We inherit His own mercy. We are called by God and belong to God.

I belong to (thirst for) God.
In our Baptism, we were each called by God to become His sons and daughters. I am one
called by God.” Now, I belong to God.” St. Paul tells the Galatians after their Baptism that they
belong to Christ (Gal 3:29). In our Baptism, we receive an indelible mark on our souls which
sets us apart as belonging to God forever. This belonging is not only passive, as an object
belongs to a person. It is an active belonging. I would like to think of this as a belonging
to God and therefore a longing for God. The psalmist for this Sunday’s psalm understood this
belonging to God when he wrote, “O God, you are my God, for you I long. for you my soul is
thirsting. My body pines for you like a dry, weary land without water” (Ps. 63:2). How interesting
that God chose to use water, one of the most basic necessities of life on earth, as an instrument
to bring us to Himself in Baptism. Every human heart longs for God. Some seek the infinite
Good, Love Himself, in different ways, but all seek God. It is how our hearts were made. We
were made to long for and belong to God. We are made to thirst for Him until we belong totally to Him in heaven.

Father Thomas Dubay explains this thirst or longing for God when he says, “As a human being, a
spirit in the flesh, you are a thirst (noun, not adjective). Every single choice you make all day long is proof that you seek, you desire, you want, you lack. Nothing is ever enough. You always want more of delightful experience, and when the same experiences begin to wear thin and bore you, you seek new ones as well as heightened intensities of the old. You are engaged in an endless whirl. Always you seek, desire, want, lack.

Furthermore, you may have noticed that even after the most thrilling experience (a success, a
vacation, a party, a date, a dance), when you are quiet and alone, you perceive deep down a small
voice saying, “Is that all there is?” Nothing is enough: not praise, not success, not youth, not love. You are a thirst in the flesh, an incarnated thirst. You yearn for endless beauty and joy, endless love and delight, endless security and happiness and an immortality in which to enjoy it all.

You cannot help being an incarnated thirst. Nor can I. We were born that way and we will die that way. We may differ in how we seek to slake our thirst. Some go up blind alleys. Others go to the Fountain. But all seek. There are no differing vocations based on thirsting, seeking, and desiring. All men and women want to be quenched, and any vocation must respond to the need for quenching. But there are differing vocations based on how efficiently and how rapidly the quenching is to be achieved. Jesus has said that those who give up family, property, and marriage for the sake of his enterprise achieve many times over in this life. What they achieve must be what we now call “fulfillment”: complete vitality, love, and joy. Christian celibacy is intimately connected with drinking at the divine

Fountain, here and hereafter” (Thomas Dubay, And You are Christ’s).
All long for God and are called by God. God desires to fill and quench the thirst of every
human heart. I am filled by God. The psalmist began with the exclamation that his soul thirsts for God. Soon after, he says, “As with the riches of a banquet shall my soul be satisfied, and with exultant lips my mouth shall praise you” (Ps. 63:6). What is this banquet with which the soul will be filled? It is God’s presence in the soul of a believer. Through the sacrament of Baptism, God comes to dwell in the soul of the believer. One can understand this verse in reference to Christ’s own presence, Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity, in the Eucharist. St. John Chrysostom, in a fourth century homily, on the Passion of Christ, explains that when Jesus” side was pierced with a lance, the, water and blood symbolised baptism and the holy Eucharist (Jn 19:34. Chrysostom). The fountain to purify from sin and uncleanness of which the prophet Zechariah prophesied in the first reading is the same fountain of mercy which gives us the Eucharist (Zec. 13:1). The Eucharist is truly a sacred banquetÓ in which Christ comes to quench our thirsting souls and to satisfy our hunger for infinite Love. We are living thirsts, but we are made to be filled. In adoring Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament, we, like the psalmist, gaze upon [God] in the sanctuary, to see [His] strength and [His] gloryÓ (Ps. 63:3). We find that He gives us everything we need. He gives us Himself.

Now we return to Christ’s words to His disciples, “If anyone wishes to come after me, he must
deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me” (Lk. 9:23). We receive the grace to do
what the Lord asks in a special way in our Baptism. We can deny ourselves when God asks it of
us because we know that He is our Good Father. He has called us to be His own children in
Baptism. We can follow God because we long for Him in the deepest parts of our being. We
belong to Him and thirst for Him. We can do all of this daily, not by our own strength, but
because we are filled by God. He supplies every grace we need. He “pours His spirit on us,” in
Baptism and “fills us as with a banquet” in the Eucharist. Knowing that we are called by God,
belong to God and are filled by God, we can trust God to be with us in every situation, even
when He calls us to the cross. We too can say with the psalmist, “You are my help, and in the
shadow of your wings I rejoice. My soul clings to you. your right hand holds me fast” (Ps.

Catechism of the Catholic Church. United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. USCCB.org.
Glossary p. 881. http://ccc.usccb.org/flipbooks/catechism/index.html#898

Chrysostom, St. John. From Saint John Chrysostom’s Catecheses 3:13 19 SC 50, 174177
cited in Taylor Marshall’s “Why Blood and Water from the Side of Christ?” (from St John Chrysostom). http://taylormarshall.com/2010/04/whybloodandwaterfromsideofchrist.

Dubay, Thomas, S.M. And You are Christ’s. Ignatius Press, 1987.
Milward, Peter, S.J. “Devotion to the Sacred Heart: Part I.” CatholicCulture.org.

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