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Wisdom 2: 12, 17-20 /James 3:16-4:3 / Mark 9:30-37

You know what the most boring day
of the 20th century was?

It was April 11th, 1954!!!

What happened on April 11, 1954?

Well, not much apparently.

A British computer scientist
fed three hundred million
facts from the popular media of the day
into a computer he programmed.

After putting all those facts
in the computer,
the computer determined that
the most boring day of the twentieth century was. . .
April 11, 1954.

On that day,
supposedly nothing important happened:

no famous person was born. . .

no celebrity died. . .

nothing exploded. . .

no war broke out. . .

no house collapsed!!!

As one commentator noted,
the way the media thinks. . .
and maybe even the way we think. . .

is that for something to be a “true “ event. . .
it has to be something that shrieks. . .

or stinks. . .

or explodes.

The most boring day of the 20th century. . .
April 11, 1954.

Well, guess what day April 11, 1954 was?

It was Passion Sunday.

On April 11, 1954,
The entire Roman Catholic Church
All over the world
celebrated the Passion of Jesus Christ. . .

celebrated the day humanity was saved. . .
the day when self-sacrificial love conquered evil.

And no doubt,
on April 11, 1954,
there were thousands who were
so moved by the celebration of Passion Sunday. . .

that their hearts were changed. . .

and they made a step toward
living the fullness of Gospel. . .
living the Good News. . .

living the power and joy of self-sacrificial love. . .

and when they did,
the world was changed for the better!!!

So, in the eyes of God. . .
and in the eyes of a whole lot of Christians. . .

April 11, 1954
was no boring day at all. (Lohfink, Jesus, 5)

Which leads me to today’s Gospel.

In our Gospel reading in Mark,
we’ve now moved into the section
where Jesus and his disciples
are heading to Jerusalem. . .

Jesus is moving toward the Cross. . .

the ultimate act of self-sacrificial love.

The first part of Mark’s Gospel is filled
with Jesus doing powerful deeds. . .

Exorcising demons. . .

Healing the sick. . .

Calming the storms.

And His disciples believe that He IS Messiah.

They believe because all of that was
prophesied about the Messiah!!!

With Jesus. . .

the Kingdom of God is at hand. . .

a new age has dawned. . .

the long awaited Messiah has come. . .

just look at His mighty deeds.

So on this fateful trip to Jerusalem,
Jesus starts teaching His followers
that there is something more to the Messiah
than just doing mighty deeds. . .

Jesus is trying to teach them
that the Messiah must suffer and die. . .

That being the Messiah is about self-sacrificial love.

And they just don’t get it!!!

Of course they don’t get it!!!

The idea that the Messiah,
would suffer and die. . .

that God’s Son would be sacrificed
was a totally new religious concept. . .

and not just to them. . .

to everybody.

What usually happens in religion?

When the relationship between
God and humans is broken because of sin. . .

because humans have mucked up God’s creation. . .

mucked God’s plans for humanity. . .

Humans had to appease the
wrathful and angry gods?

So they had to offer up some sacrifice.

The ancient Greeks sacrificed
animals to appease their gods.

In the earliest period of Hinduism. . .

Hindu priests offered plants and
animals and even humans
to pacify their gods.

And the Aztecs,
they offered human sacrifices to
the god of the sun.

The Aztecs sacrificed
as many as 20,000 humans a year.

And don’t forget the Old Testament
and the sacrificial system of the Jewish faith.

But now with Jesus. . .

the true Messiah. . .

it’s something altogether different

A complete reversal of
the sacrificial system in religion.

With Christ and the Cross,
there’s a new revelation about God. . .
about who God is!!!

With Christianity,
it’s not humanity that has to come begging,
by offering some sacrifice to God
in order to restore our relationship with God.

No.
It’s God who comes to humanity.

It is God who takes the initiative
to restore the broken relationship.

It’s not humanity who makes the sacrifice!

It’s God who makes the ultimate sacrifice!

This is completely unheard of!
It’s turned religion on its head!

No wonder the apostles were so confused.

No wonder they didn’t get it at first.

With Christ and the Cross,
God reveals Himself as a God of complete. . .
self-sacrificial love.

A God who loves so foolishly. . .

loving to the point of humiliation
in order to save us and a fallen world.

A totally new concept of God!!!

And there’s more. . .

Jesus invites his followers. . .
invites His disciples. . .
invites us. . .

to follow Him in His mission of
self-sacrificial love that
will help save the world. . .

and will help change the world. . .

and will show the world the
great power of self-sacrificial love.

Jesus. . .
Out of love for the world. . .
and out of love for us. . .

invites us to pick up our Cross. . .
and follow Him.

Jesus invites us to get in line with Him. . .

and not to be first. . .
but to be last. . .

Not to be the greatest. . .
but to be the least.

Not to be served. . .
but to serve.

Jesus invites us to offer ourselves
For something much greater than ourselves. . .

to save the world. . .

to change the world. . .

to show the world!!!

What does that look like?

Well, here’s a real example.

One of our nursing alumns
works on the burn unit at UK.

You can imagine how difficult this
unit would be to work in.

And one day this nurse shared
with me how she followed Jesus. . .

how she carried her Cross of self-sacrificial love.

She told me that she always volunteers
to take the patient
that no other nurse wants.

Take the patient who is the sickest. . .

Take the patient who needs the most work. . .

Take the patient who is the least appreciative. . .

Take the patient who is hurting the most. . . .

And I don’t think I’ve met a more joyful nurse.

 

So what’s does this look like in your life?

To pick up your cross and follow Him?. . .

To be the least, not the greatest?. . .

To be last, not first?. . .

To serve, instead of being served?. . .

To love someone more than yourself?. . .

To experience the kind of joy that only Jesus can give?

What does it look like?

Today is September 19, 2021.

I don’t know if today is a boring news day or not?

I don’t know if some celebrity died. . .

Or a building was blown up. . .

Or a new war was started?

But it’s certainly not a boring day in the eyes of God.

First of all,
any day the Mass is celebrated. . .
it’s certainly not a boring day.

And today,
September 19, 2021,
there may have been thousands who were
so moved by the Gospel reading today at Mass

that their hearts were changed. . .

and they made a step toward
living the power. . .
and the joy. . .
of Jesus’ self-sacrificial love.

September 18-19, 2021