Sunday Homily- Fr. Luke Uebler 3/21/21
“When Christ Jesus was in the flesh, he offered prayers and supplications with loud cries and tears to
the one who was able to save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverence. Son
though he was, he learned obedience from what he suffered; and when he was made perfect, he
became the source of eternal salvation.” Words from our 2nd Reading today from the 5th chapter of
the Letter to the Hebrews – sisters and brothers, may the Lord give to you his peace and his joy.
This short passage from the Letter to the Hebrews today casts a rare light on Jesus. Whereas the
Gospel accounts tell us that Jesus prayed and what he prayed about, here we read that Jesus prayed
“with loud cries and tears.” John’s account tells us that Jesus was confident that God heard his
prayers, perhaps because he was God’s Son; here we read that Jesus “was heard because of his
reverence.” The Gospel accounts tell us that Jesus remained in constant communion with the will of
God; here we read that “he learned obedience from what he suffered.” The Gospel accounts tell us
that at Jesus’ baptism he was already “my Son, the beloved” in whom God was “well pleased,” but
here we read that Jesus was “made perfect.” The author of the letter to the Hebrews grasped what
many views of Jesus are missing: a clear understanding of Jesus’ humanity, which is just as important
as any viewpoint espoused in the New Testament. He is true God and true man.
In the Gospel today, some Greeks ask: “Sir, we would like to see Jesus.” I should think that we
ourselves would like to see Jesus too. The desire to encounter God is written in our hearts. We are
God’s people. The first reading from Jeremiah speaks to how all from least to greatest will come to
know God so intimately. Yes, we would like to see Jesus, but the letter to the Hebrews suggests that
Jesus is closer to us than we realize. Through Jesus, God’s experience of being human is now
complete; he is one with the human condition. He can fully understand human distress and the
desire to escape it. He has endured torment of body and anguish of soul. He prays with loud cries
and tears. He can speak to those in affliction as one who himself has been ravaged by suffering but
despite it has clung fast to God’s will. Jesus himself must progress towards God and make his return
to the Father. And so, Jesus is the grain of wheat that has fallen to the earth, and offers up himself so
as to bear much fruit for us. He does not regard his equality with God something to be grasped, but
rather he empties himself. He is like us in all things and goes before us in all things even unto death
itself, so that when he is lifted up from the earth on the cross, he lifts up all of humanity with him to
God. Through our union with him, through the humanity of Jesus, God draws all people to himself.
This is very evident to me in the Stations of the Cross which we often pray during this time of the
year. I happen to have a favorite version, entitled Everyone’s Way of the Cross by Clarence Enzler. In
this particular edition, as we journey and pray through the Stations, it is Jesus who speaks to us,
telling us how he is one with us in our journey of life. For the remainder of our reflection today, I
would like quote various prayers from Everyone’s Way of the Cross that we may enter more deeply
into the communion and solidarity with have with God and God with us. And by our following in
Jesus’ way, by becoming wheat, by taking up our crosses, by offering up ourselves for the life of
others, I think we would come to find Jesus in our very midst. Listen as Christ speaks to you:
– These steps that you are now about to walk you do not take alone. I walk with you. Take heart
my other self. Though you are you, and I am I, yet we are truly one. And therefore, my way of the
cross two thousand years ago and your “way” now are also one.
– This cross, this chunk of tree, is what my Father chose for me. The crosses you must bear are
largely products of your daily life. And yet my Father chose them, too, for you. Receive them from
his hands. Take heart, my other self, I will not let your burdens grow one ounce too heavy for your
– The God who made the universe, and holds it in existence by his will alone, becomes a man too
weak to bear a piece of timber’s weight. How human in his weakness is the Son of God. My Father
willed it thus. I could not be your model otherwise. If you would be my other self, you also must
accept without complaint your human frailties.
– My strength is gone; I can no longer bear the cross alone. And so, the legionnaires make Simon
give me aid. This Simon is like you, my other self. Give me your strength. Each time you lift some
burden from another’s back, you lift as with your very hand the cross’s awful weight that crushes
me. I REPLY: Lord, make me realize that every time I wipe a dish, pick up an object off the floor,
assist a child in some small task, or give another preference in traffic or the store; each time I feed
the hungry, clothe the naked, teach the ignorant, or lend my hand in any way – it matters not to
whom – my name is Simon. And the kindness I extend to them I really give to you.
– CHRIST SPEAKS: Can you be brave enough, my other self, to wipe my bloody face? Where is my
face, you ask? At home whenever eyes fill up with tears, at work when tensions rise, on the
playgrounds, in the slums, the courts, the hospitals, the jails – wherever suffering exists – my face
is there. And there I look for you to wipe away my blood and tears.
– Behold, my other self, the poorest king who ever lived. Before my creatures I stand stripped. The
cross – my deathbed – even this is not my own. Yet who has ever been so rich? Possessing
nothing, I own all – my Father’s love. If you, too, would own everything, be not solicitous about
your food, your clothes, your life.
– So ends my mortal life. But now another life begins for Mary, and for Magdalen, For Peter, for
John, and you. My life’s work is done. My work within and through my church must now
commence. I look to you, my other self. Day in, day out, from this time forth, Be my apostle –
victim – saint.
– I told you at the start, my other self, my life was not complete until I crowned it by my death. Your
“way” is not complete unless you crown it by your life. Accept each moment as it comes to you,
with faith and trust that all that happens has my mark on it. A simple fiat, this is all it takes; A
breathing in your heart, “I will it, Lord.” So seek me not in far off places. I am close at hand. Your
workbench, office, kitchen, These are altars where you offer love. And I am with you there. Go
now! Take up your cross and with your life complete your way.