A Message from Father William

In this Sunday’s Gospel, Saint Peter tries to deny the Lord His Passion – “God forbid, Lord! No such thing shall ever happen to you.” – where, although it’s difficult for him to comprehend at the time, Saint Peter, in effect, is denying the possibility of true joy (Matthew 16:21-27). As Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ taught us, the only way to everlasting joy is through His Cross and Resurrection – Saint Peter, our first pope, did not yet understand this in his encounter with Jesus in today’s Gospel, but he would soon understand (for Peter would eventually be martyred, crucified, rather than deny the Faith, rather than give up his faith in and love for God – as Jesus foretells in John 21). Indeed, Jesus said to His disciples, “Whoever wishes to come after Me must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow Me” (Matthew 16:24). There is no Resurrection without the Crucifixion – so, when we look upon a crucifix, we look upon a reminder of God’s love for us ( John 3:16-21): that by His One Sacrifice on the Cross, Jesus has redeemed the world and wrought for us life eternal – if we would, by His grace, just follow Him (Matthew 16:21-27; Luke 9:23; John 14:1-6).

“It is only by enduring himself, by freeing himself through suffering from the tyranny of egoism, that man finds himself, that he finds his truth, his joy, his happiness,” Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI has said (Co-Workers of the Truth, Ignatius Press). You see, when we unite our suffering with Jesus’ redemptive suffering on the Cross, then our suffering takes on meaning, for it becomes redemptive suffering. Therefore, we eagerly offer not only our suffering, but our entire being as a living sacrifice to God, as Saint Paul reminds us this Sunday (Romans 12:1-2). For, no matter how much our sharing in Christ’s Cross may make us an object of the world’s laughter and mockery, we know that our need to live our relationship with the Lord will become like fire burning in our heart ( Jeremiah 20:7-9). “The Cross forces us to look upon the fact that we are loved by God,” Pope Benedict XVI has said. “The Cross becomes a new center of gravity for the bringing together of what is divided… There is, in fact, no other way in which one can be saved than by the Cross.” At every Mass, we stand at the foot of the Cross, where the One Sacrifice of Christ is made present on the altar, by the power of God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, working through the unworthy priest. Jesus gives us Himself in the Holy Eucharist, in what still looks like bread and wine but has become the real, true and substantial Presence of Jesus Christ – body, blood, soul and divinity. When we enter into this awesome Mystery of the Mass, into the Passion, Death, Resurrection and Ascension of Jesus, we find the meaning of our life, we find Truth and Love and everlasting Joy.

As we’ve begun a new school year here at Saint Clement Parish, let us pray for God’s
blessings on all our students, families, faculty and staff, that we will all grow in the joy
of knowing, loving and serving God, and in our love for our neighbor. “So we know and believe in the love God has for us. God is love, and those who abide in love abide
in God, and God abides in them” (1 John 4:16).

With peace and prayers in Christ,
Fr. William Vernon