Sermon for International Day
23 September 2012, Tokyo Cathedral
Dear Brothers and Sisters in the Lord Jesus Christ,
We are gathered here today to celebrate the International Day Mass. It is the 25th Sunday in the liturgical calendar and the World Day of Migrants and Refugees.
In today’s Gospel, Jesus is predicting his Passion. However, the disciples did not understand what it was all about. Probably they vaguely anticipated that something horrible was going to happen. The Scripture reads: “They did not understand what he was saying and were afraid to ask him” (Mk 9:32). They had something more exciting to occupy their minds: “Who is the greatest among us?” When Jesus asked them, “What were you arguing about on the way?” they became silent. This was probably because they felt a bit ashamed of themselves. None of them understood the heart of Jesus who was proceeding through the way of the Cross.
However, the disciples encountered later the resurrected Jesus and came to understand deeply the meaning of his words and his life. That was after they received the Holy Spirit.
As we start the Year of Faith on October 11th, the great challenge proposed to us is to know Jesus Christ better.
Johns Gospel proclaims: “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life” (Jn 3:16). The Father witnessed how his beloved Son was humiliated, taunted, abandoned, and sentenced to a cruel death on the cross. The Father must have felt excruciating pain. To this Father, Jesus cried out: “Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani? (My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?)” (Mk 15:34). Jesus’ physical and spiritual conditions were at their breaking points. In what spirit did Jesus utter these words?
To know Jesus is to know his suffering. It is to participate in his suffering. He wants us to follow him, bearing our own crosses.
According to John’s Gospel, Jesus said: “It is finished. Then he bowed his head and gave up his spirit” (Jn 19:30). He entrusted all to the Father and thus completed his life on earth. Truly Jesus was “the founder of our faith and brings it to completion” (Heb 12:2). The best teacher of faith is Jesus and his life is the supreme model of our faith.
Jesus also said: “And this is eternal life, that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent” (Jn 17:3).
As we start the Year of Faith, let us try to know Jesus better, by praying together, going beyond our nationalities, languages, cultures, and customs. Let us ask Our Lady’s intercession so that we may be led by the Holy Spirit to become one and to walk together the path of eternal life.