Twenty-second Sunday in Ordinary Time – Cycle A
Reflecting on Mt 16: 21-27
Today, on this feast of St. Augustine, it’s good to read some of the things he had to say about today’s difficult Gospel:
We know what great things love can accomplish, even though it is often base and sensual. We know what hardships people have endured, what intolerable indignities they have borne to attain the object of their love. What we love indicates the sort of people we are, and therefore making a decision about this should be our one concern in choosing a way of life.
How absolutely brilliant, and yet so simple. Figure out what (and whom) you love, and then choose your way of life. Any career, any lifestyle will have its struggles, but if you choose a life in Christ you can be sure that it will come with a cross fit just for you.
My mind goes to images of Jesuits tied to rafts and sent over waterfalls in South America. I can also conjure up stories of the great suffering of Catholic missionaries imprisoned in China for decades, or Franciscan Father Maximilian Kolbe offering to die in place of a stranger at Auschwitz.
But of course the real crosses are the daily ones, the aggravating ones, the ones that form us and give clarity to our decisions about whether we will make eye contact with that guy holding the sign on the corner, or pick up the phone when the lonely neighbor calls again.
What cross do you pick up and carry with love because of WHOM you love? Let’s talk about it together here on the website.
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I have come to light a fire on the earth; how I wish it were already burning (Lk.12:49).
Wow! that is such a good question Kathy! I’ve never had a good mother-daughter relationship with my mom. Now she is 89 years old and wants to live in her home. I pray for patience and I bite my tongue when she becomes so negative and only seems to remember the bad things in her life. I help clean and mow her lawn, take her shopping and try to show her love and care, because I love her and know that is what Jesus would want me to do.
This is a good quistion, I don’t know how to anwer it. I have had many responsibilities in life I didn’t always mind them but there were times that I didn’t carry them with the love and grace that Jesus would have liked me to. Now I love my family and friends with all my heart. But soetimes the cross of their illness or personality becomes too hard to bare and then I have to do the most loving thing I know to do. I put in the Lord’s hands and I have to realize, is this my cross of love or is it my ego? Can I do this with the love of Christ or will I do them more harm in the long run? Am I doing this for that person or am I worried about what others will say if I don’t pick it up? Am I helping or enabling? When we grow up in disfunction discerning what is a cross doesn’t come easy. I just push on and do the best that I can and hope it’s God’s will.
I grew up in dysfunction, too, but just recognizing that dysfunction makes it possible not to continue it. I think the worst thing would be to come from a dysfunctional family and never know that, so you would carry it on in your life. Obviously, you think about it. Using the terms “enabling” and “discerning” are keys to your recognition, because dysfunctional people don’t use those terms intelligently, if at all. When we have burdens that are hard to bear, we ask for and accept the grace to love and live in that love every day.
Months after my son died, I went to Confession and told the priest that I was nothing but a hypocrite, because I was just going through the motions. He said, “You’re not a hypocrite.” I asked him how he knew that, and he replied, “Because, if you were a hypocrite, you wouldn’t be worried about it.” It’s the same for you. You aren’t enabling, or you won’t continue to enable, because you’re thinking about it.
My son who is 37 years old is living with us. He has not held a job for more than a couple of weeks for 4 years now. I know he is depressed and he will not go and get any help. He leaves my home and stays with his brother when I tell him he needs help. I feel he is getting more depressed every day. He tells me to get rid of his pictures at home. I think I may have to call the police and have him taken to a hospital. He says he can’t get help because he has no health insurance. I also grew up in a dysfunctional home and also a dysfunctional marriage. I pray for the right thing to do!! But doing nothing is not the right thing to do. People tell me to kick him out, maybe they are right, but he still needs help. I need help! My family needs help! I am calling mental health and making an appointment for me. I pray for guidance and courage and wisdom every day. I continue on and do the best I can do. I pray for God’s will. I feel I am enabling him and not helping him. We all have different crosses to carry.
Please be assured that I will pray for you and your son. I am relieved that you are going to get mental health assistance. It is easy for everyone else to tell you to kick your son out, but that may not be the best action. Please follow through and call for help. We all have a tough time seeing options when we’re in the middle of situations like the one you describe.
God, be with Sandy as she sorts out the difficulties she and her son are facing. Let her feel Your comfort and give her strength to do what she needs to do, whatever that may be. Make sure she knows of Your love every day. In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.
Thank You Sandy for being so brave to share with us. What makes dealing with persons with depession hard is we don’t know how to take the steps needed to get help.There were times that lifting my head up off my pillow felt like it was too much efford. I was one who pulled away and tries to fade, I am the kind of person who can’t take the stress of too much attention. I’ve been on both sides of this as the depressed one and the observer of a depressed person. I have found that for me tough love seldom works. The thing I have learned about my cross of suffering is that no matter which side I’m on, the cross is lighter when I ask the Lord to carry it with me. Also I have had as a care provider had to realize that I cannot change the other person, the thing that helped me a few years ago cope after my favorite nephew killed someone while in a stupid drunkn fight, I spent hours at the Eucharistic Adoration Chapel. And in the silence of that Chapel the Lord worked through me and with me so that the months of court and tears that my nephew pourred out were met with a grace beyong my usual ability. my depression lifted and I was better able to help him through. It was like it became the Lord words answing my nephew’s questions not mine.
Having grown up a huge introvert, I am an inveterate reader of other people’s emotions and moods. Add to that a hidden burden as a child of feeling different and often despairing, but with a burning desire to belong, to be better, to be happier. That hope would finally bring me through the darkness to a place of love, community, and a true embrace of who I was created to be.
That’s a long introduction for my answer to Kathy’s question. Whom do I love? I love the fragile and yearning person hidden behind the public faces we construct to navigate through our lives. It’s there in even the most uncharitable and judgmental person no less than in the people who seem to exist anonymously in the halls of our workplaces, in the lines at the grocery store, and even in the accomplished and admirable people who seem to have it all. Knowing what it is to feel invisible, or awkward, or isolated, or just wanting someone to acknowledge something great I did, it changes how you must respond to others. It obligates me to find something to cherish in everyone, which can be a cross sometimes, believe me. But it does indeed affect life choices from the most trivial to the most fundamental, and I never stopped to realize those decisions are rooted — in the end — in nothing but love.
My priest’s homily this weekend centered on each of us being “our brother’s keeper”. Now in response to Kathy’s question, I think of who or what I love, and what I do to keep them in Christ. I spoke with my brother today, who routinely reviews our entire family in his conversations. And we love them all, siblings, cousins, aunts and uncles, in spite of their faults and behaviors. We love our families enough to keep their secrets, and visit them when we would really rather stay home. And yet we have an obligation to help them by sometimes turning away from their bad behavior…what a fine line to walk! My personal cross is caring for my son who is in prison. I love the person, but not the action. In examining this, I have explored the possible causes of his behavior, yet more crosses and skeletons in the closet. So, beyond being my brother’s keeper, I am my son’s keeper. I keep him close in my heart and close in prayer, helping ready for his release and whole world of new opportunity, hopeful new behaviors learned from his years of reflecting on his past life.
Sandy, I just read about your cross to bear with your son. My heart goes out to you as we had a son who suffered from depression. He couldn’t seem to find his niche in the world, despite counseling and encouragement. He had finally gotten a steady job and was wanting to make some good decisions for himself when he suffered a tragic auto accident. A truck ran into his car, no alcohol or drugs, just one of those true “accidents”. He had just turned 26 on Sept. 3 and the accident occurred exactly 14 years ago today (Sept. 5). He died in my arms 3 days later. We would have celebrated his 40th birthday this year, so it’s been a poignant weekend. Kevin’s death taught us was how important it is to love, even when the situation looks so bleak. He and we suffered a lot of years through his depression, unemployment, isolation and his journey to discover his purpose in life. Others told us to kick him out, make him stand on his own. I’ve never regretted that we chose a different path: to accept him as he was, continue to offer him support, try not to “enable”, but to love him as only parents can. When I learn of other parents struggling with their children, I can only advise – they are God’s gift to you, in whatever lifestyle, form or behavior. Love is the response God calls us to give. I will pray for you and your son. I trust God will show you how best to “carry your cross” and demonstrate that love to your son while you can. He is a precious gift.