…The Cross, Sin, & Salvation…
(from a March 6, 1977 homily)

I have told you often, and I repeat it today with tears, there are many who are behaving as enemies of the cross of Christ.  (Philippians 3:18)

One of the things much more noticeable now than in the past among some who call themselves Christians is the separation of the life they call Christian from the Cross of Christ.  This is, I suppose, to be expected when people lose their sense of sin and substitute a merely social Gospel for the true one.  Our Lord died, not to make us or the world prosperous and rich and comfortable, as some people think.  He came and died to save us and the world from sin, sin against God.
The Church in its members carries on this work of Christ, which is to save men from sin and lead them to repentance.  So while it is quite right to stress the Christians’ duty to do all they can out of charity to improve man’s material condition and remove as much suffering as possible, yet we must never forget that Our Lord came to save us not from poverty or suffering, but from the guilt of sin.  He came to make us holy.  He came to make even our suffering holy.

No one goes through life without some suffering.  There is a cross or crosses for everyone to bear.  The difference between a Christian and a non-Christian is that the Christian has a different attitude to suffering from that of the unbeliever.  We see, or ought to see, suffering as redemptive, as a remedy for sin.  We see it as something to be united with the sufferings of Christ, as something leading to glory, as something that makes us holy.  It is something we can offer to God as a pleasing sacrifice and a proof of love for Him.

When suffering or distress of mind or body comes to us, and when we cannot reasonably get rid of it, then we must show that we are not enemies of the Cross of Christ in which we have been given a small share.  Everyone has his share in the Cross, and the important thing is to recognize and accept it.  We must not separate our cross from the Cross of Christ. . .

Among the words of Jesus that we must listen to are those to all His followers, telling us to deny ourselves, take up our cross daily, and follow Him.

It is not the uncomfortable or painful things in this life which are the real tragedy of human life.  It is sin that is the real tragedy and which causes all tragedies.  And we are surrounded by sin in this world.  It is displayed before us in our newspapers and periodicals, on radio and television.  From these sources you might easily conclude that the world not only does not recognize sin, but actually glories in it as a manifestation of freedom and maturity.

All the sin around us should make us very sad and give us a determination to be near to Christ Our Lord and to be very faithful in taking up our own cross and following Him.  In this way we can do Jesus’ work in the Church, which is to save men from sin, to redeem the world through suffering, to purify it.

Whenever we celebrate Holy Mass and receive Communion, we are sharing in the Passion and Death and Resurrection of Christ.  If we are unwilling throughout the day and our lives to share in what we share in at Mass, both our life and our offering at Mass are worthless.  It is our life that we offer together with Christ’s life at Mass.  And just as we receive from God the life of Christ in Communion, so must we accept the providential events of life throughout the day from God; they too are a kind of communion with Christ. . .

We must never be enemies of the Cross of Christ whether we look at it in the distance or feel its actual weight.  We must be glad to make small or great offerings of our sufferings as gifts to God in union with those of His Only Son.  A large number of small offerings to God are as sanctifying as fewer great ones, and God will not ask more than we can give.  If we are faithful in small things, He will take care of the large things.

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