Homily — 24th Sunday OT 9/13/09

Homily — 24th Sunday OT 9/13/09

The parish secretary at one of my previous assignments had a mother who was from an Eastern European country.

And any time a wedding came up in the parish, my former secretary would say “I remember when I got married 45 years ago. You got married in the morning in those days, and after I came home from the Church, I walking through the doorway with my wedding gown still on, when my mother said “stop right there!” ”

Then she said that her mother stuck out a teaspoon of honey and said to her “Eat this!” Then, after she ate it, her mom sprinked a bunch of salt on the same teaspoon and told her “Now eat this!” She ate the salt.

Then her mother got a little shot of whiskey, and said to her “Now drink this!” She said “Mom, I haven’t even had breakfast yet!” But her mom insisted, so she drank it.

Her mom afterwards told her what she did was a wedding custom from the old country:

The standing under the doorway represented the entering into married life.

The honey she ate represented the sweetness of married life she could now look forward to.

The salt she ate represented the bitterness, the trials of married life she had to also accept along with the sweet.

And the whiskey represented God’s presence and blessing, which would always be there for her throughout her married life.

Marriage has in it honey, salt and whiskey; or to use a different analogy, it is like the Rosary: it has Joyful, Sorrow, and Glorious Mysteries, and if you want one of them, you must accept the other two.

And as it is in the relationship of a Husband and a Wife, so it also is in the relationship between a Jesus and His Disciple.

In today’s Gospel, we see the Apostles start to learn that following Jesus isn’t all honey and sweetness. The honeymoon ended for them that day at Caesarea Philippi.

Up to that point, it had been all sweetness for Peter and the Gang. They had spent two whole bliss-filled years in the presence of Jesus, living with him, traveling with him, each day seeing him work greater miracles than the day before.

Up to this point they had witnessed Jesus heal countless sick persons, cast demons out of many possessed persons; they even saw with their own eyes dead men and women raised to life by Jesus, as well as hardened sinners, even prostitutes and tax collectors, transformed into saints and fellow disciples.

Better still, the Apostles saw themselves being transformed by Jesus’ words and actions, they saw themselves turning away from their past sinful ways and turning toward the light and truth of the Gospel Jesus preached, to the point where Jesus was sending them out in pairs to heal and teach and cast out demons.

Yes, those first two years of following Jesus were quite an extended honeymoon for Peter and the Twelve.

And as we see, because of this honeymoon time, it was finally beginning to dawn on all of them just who this man, that they had left everything to follow, really was.

After two years of following him, they knew he wasn’t some John the Baptist wannabe some were saying he was.

He wasn’t just another one of God’s prophets, as good as that would have been. He wasn’t even The Prophet, Elijah, who scripture said was to come and prepare the way of the Lord.

He wasn’t the One to prepare for the Lord, He was the Lord – not only the Christ, but the Son of God, God Himself become Flesh, as incredible as that sounded, but they could not deny it after all they had heard and seen those first couple years.

And Jesus, hearing this profession of faith on Peter’s lips, and seeing that same faith on the faces of the other Apostles, says to them “You have tasted the Sweet, now you must taste the Bitter.”

For the first time in the Gospel, Jesus announces to them Behold, the Son of man must suffer greatly and be rejected. . . .and be killed.

Suffering. Rejection. Killing. Where did the honey go? Peter takes Jesus aside and says “Lord, your disturbing us with this kind of talk. Please stop!”

And Jesus replies “Peter, you are talking like Satan, and thinking like humans do, when instead you and the others should be talking and thinking like God does.”

And from this point on in the Gospel, Jesus will more and more teach his disciples that following him will entail both for Him and for them suffering, and sacrifice and persecution. In doing so, Jesus is being loving, he is showing them the deeper and fuller meaning of love.

As Christians, we like the Apostles must learn to take the salt with the honey, the bitter with the sweet.

Jesus knows that the Cross is difficult for us to accept, which is why he always covers it with a lot of honey, which is why He usually gives us an extended honeymoon, and sometimes a 2nd and 3rd and 4th one as well.

And which is also why he gives us the shot of whiskey, the gift of His Holy Spirit, a foretaste of Heaven, in this life, to help us take the bitter with the sweet.

As we celebrate this Eucharist, which Christ gave us as “The Memorial of His suffering and death”, may Jesus and His Sorrowful Mother give us the grace to take up our Cross and follow Him to Calvary, that we may truly be counted among his disciples and friends.

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