God sent His Son, the Messiah, to heal us where we really need it – from our sins and their consequences.
People have a tendency, perhaps it is because of our weakness and concupiscence, to ignore where we are really hurting, or pretend it's not that bad. I remember at times as a kid (and still perhaps today) when I would pretend everything was alright although I had just fallen flat on my face and scraped up my hands pretty bad or something. We don't like to be embarrassed – and nothing is more embarrassing than getting hurt, by our own fault, in public. We do this with our sins: we hurt ourselves (while at the same time hurting others). So maybe that is why we don't admit that we have been hurt and are continuing to hurt ourselves by our sins: it's kind of embarrassing since it's our fault.
Another thing we do, to distract us from those things that are really hurting us the most: we focus on other little pains of everyday life: strains in our relationships, the harsh word or deed from a stranger at the store or on the road, the unfortunate turn of events that put our plans in disarray. I'm not saying these are not real pains we experience, but that there are much deeper ones we live with. In this world of noise – of billboards, of 3-second quotes on the radio, of loud advertisements grasping for our attention – it is so easy to lose focus on the important but seemingly not urgent because so many other things are seemingly important and urgently demanding of our time and attention (though they really don't deserve it).
This makes the woman in last week's reading, who had that healthy kind of sorrow for her sins that was healed by the knowledge that she was still loved by God in Jesus. She didn't pretend she was alright or ignore here deepest pains. She took them right to him. And only when we show the doctor where we hurt can we be healed.
Jesus Christ, the Messiah, came to save us from what really hurts us – our sins and their consequences, the greatest consequence being death. And he did this by the Cross. The Cross is what saves us, what heals us.
The Cross is a paradox: “whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it.” This doesn't make sense to us on a literal level. We have to look at a spiritual sense that goes beyond our common sense in order to understand this. And really, we will never “get it” unless we do it.
Carrying the Cross means being in touch with our life at its deepest. It means not ignoring the pains we have. It means holding on to them, praying through them, lifting up and offering the pain on this altar every Sunday, so that we can experience the Resurrection.
Carrying the Cross is hard for me, it is hard for all of us. Some days we might have apparently less challenges, but we all know the struggles are there, the pains run deep and are sometimes ignored, the vocation is meant to seep into all that we are. One thing that helps me in difficult times is the witness of others. Here in the parish Fr. Bill and I witness you and those sitting around you at the highest and lowest parts of life. The witness of your faith, carrying your Crosses (which so often we can't predict) has helped me to carry mine. As I witness the new life the Lord gives you, I am inspired to do the same. Thank you for your faithful witness.
Here at Mass we are able to reset our focus. Today we are invited to put our attention on where we are really hurting – on our true crosses – to not distract ourselves with the surface of our lives, but to look into the center of ourselves and find The Lord present there, wishing to heal us through them. And in this Eucharist, we place our crosses and our pains on the altar with faith in His rising.