Memorial of Saint Charles Borromeo, bishop
Philippians 2:12-18, Luke 14:25-33
“God is the one who, for his good purpose, works in you both to desire and to work” (Phil. 2:13). Paul’s words of assurance are echoed in the words of the Psalmist: “Know that the Lord is God He made us, and we belong to him. We are his people, the sheep of his flock” (Ps. 100:3). While we bend our strength to working out our salvation, we must never forget that it is God who works in us to desire and accomplish what we do. The desire to see the newness of life well up in the world flows from the heart of the Father, the God of compassion. For this regeneration to take place, we must conform to His image. We must become like him who became empty so that we might be made full, who became an outcast so that we might become beloved children, who died so that we might live. Jesus’ arms, outstretched on the cross, mark the turning point. Lifted up on the cross, he invites us all to come to the life-giving water flowing from his pierced side.
Let us ask God to continue to work in us so that we might be united in love. For love alone extinguishes hatred, love alone can ultimately triumph over injustice. Love alone makes room for others. Love alone is the path towards reconciliation. “May we learn from the Lord, who saved us by emptying himself (cf. Phil 2:7) and becoming other: from being God, he became man; from spirit, he became flesh: from a king, he became a slave. He asks us to do the same, to humble ourselves, to ‘become other’ in order to reach out to others” (Pope Francis).
Even though the disciples of Christ are not all crucified, each is called to bear his/her cross. The cross is our proof of membership in the Body of Christ. Before taking it up, Jesus advises us to be clear about what we are undertaking. The burden that the Lord lays upon us is going to take generosity, freedom, and all our strength. The crisis caused by the Covid-19 pandemic has allowed us to be more realistic about our fragility as finite creatures. We are asked to take up our cross without fear of falling, after all, Jesus fell three times as he made his way to Calvary. Stumbling and struggling under our burden, we discover that we are not walking alone. We are yoked to Christ and surrounded by a cloud of witnesses who have made the journey before us. Walking beside the Incarnate Word of God, we come to learn that we don’t need to be strong, only faithful. Confronted with our frailty and vulnerability, we are being challenged to devise ways of living lives of service and accompaniment in a world that needs the medicine of mercy and communion. Holding fast to the cross, we can lead others to the mystery of Christ.