Sept. 13 is the 24th Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year B, Cycle I).


Family

Monday, Sept. 14, is the Triumph of the Cross — a great day to take the whole family to Mass. The feast recalls the value of the cross in our lives — it originally marked the discovery of the true cross by St. Helena in the Holy Land. Take the opportunity to remind your children — and yourself — why we make the Sign of the Cross.

1. It reminds us that we were baptized into the holy Trinity and now live “in” the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.

2. It acknowledges that Christ now “owns” us — because of the cross.

You might also share tips to making the Sign of the Cross more meaningful.

1. It teaches us how we are to love God: with all our mind (we point to our head), with all our heart (we point to our heart) and with our whole strength (we point to both sides of our torso).

2. Share Pope Benedict XVI’s words: “The new weapon that Jesus puts in our hands is the cross, a sign of reconciliation, a sign of the love that is stronger than death. Every time we make the Sign of the Cross, we must remember not to meet injustice with injustice, violence with violence; we must remember that we can conquer evil only with good, and never by repaying evil with evil.”

Sept. 15 is Our Lady of Sorrows. The sufferings of Mary came from the loss of her Son. Many families remember their losses by miscarriage at Mass today. We do.


Readings

Isaiah 50:4-9; Psalm 116: 1-6, 8-9; James 2:14-18; Mark 8:27-35


Our Take

Today’s readings point to one of the central paradoxes of Christianity, best summed up by Christ himself in the Gospel: “For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and that of the Gospel will save it.”

It starts when Christ asks the apostles, “Who do people say that I am?”

They all think he is merely human, a prophet — but Peter thinks much more of him. He is the Christ. In Matthew, he adds, “the Son of the living God.”

Christ acknowledges that Peter is right — but then immediately tests him by announcing that he must suffer and be put to death. Peter fails the test. He insists that Christ should not suffer such a fate.

Though he may know who Christ is, he hasn’t abandoned himself to his will. He is “thinking not as God does, but as human beings do.”

“Thinking as God does” — abandoning oneself to God’s will — is not easy. The Suffering Servant in the reading from Isaiah must trust God in the face of terrible persecution. The Psalmist learned how to trust God only by facing a near-total loss. The second reading even warns against a false sense of abandonment: It demands that we show our faith with deeds, not just words.

The French Catholic poet Charles Peguy, in his poem “Abandonment,” imagines God complaining about people who don’t sleep because they get too caught up in their thoughts and worries. God argues that he always gives them their daily bread so they ought to stop worrying and trust him.

“He who abandons himself, I love. He who does not abandon himself, I don’t love,” he says. “That’s simple enough.”

Then he states the paradox: “He who abandons himself does not abandon himself, and he is the only one who does not abandon himself.”

To fail to trust God means you must always be picking at and fussing over your life, putting you front and center in your thoughts.

To trust God means to hand your life over and allow it to be rich and full, with God front and center in your thoughts. That’s the better way to live.

Tom and April Hoopes live in Atchison, Kansas,

where Tom is writer in residence at Benedictine College. They are former

editorial directors of Faith & Family magazine. Tom was executive editor of the Register.