Tuesday, July 12, 2011
Matthew 11:20-24 (Suffering and Self Sacrifice)
In Matthew’s Gospel, Jesus reproaches the cities and towns that witnessed his preaching and miracles yet did not repent of their sins. It sounds like He is frustrated! We should not be surprised, for Jesus was a true man with true human feelings. Those of us who are preachers or teachers, parents or superiors ought to take heart when our exhortations fall on deaf ears. We are in good company. Incarnate Wisdom himself failed to move the hearts of His listeners with His divine eloquence. In fact, Jesus died a failure. He was rejected, executed as a criminal with only a handful of followers (mostly women) who remained loyal to Him to the very end. Indeed, it was not His preaching that saved the world but His suffering and death. Only when the Son of Man was lifted up on the cross did He begin to draw all men to Himself. And throughout the ages it is the suffering of the Church that gives power to her preaching. “The blood of martyrs is the seed of Christians.” And the self sacrifice of the Poor Clares is a hidden source of evangelization that permeates the whole Church like the fragrance of nard that was poured on the feet of Christ by Mary of Bethany. Both those who preach and those who hear the Word are enlivened by the contemplatives’ sharing in the Cross, which like perfume, is sensed rather than seen.