From Walking With Jesus
Homily For the Mass With the Cardinals, March 14, 2013
In these three readings for today’s Mass, I see a common element: that of movement. In the first reading, it is the movement of a journey; in the second reading, the movement of building the church; and in the third, in the Gospel, the movement involved in professing the faith.
Journeying. “O house of Jacob, come, let us walk in the light of the Lord,” (Isaiah 2:5). This is the first thing God said to Abraham: Walk in my presence and live blamelessly. Journeying: our life is a journey, and when we stop moving, things go wrong. Always we are journeying, in the presence of the Lord, in the light of the Lord, seeking to live with the blamelessness that God asked of Abraham in his promise.
Building. We are building the church. We speak of stones. Stones are solid, but living stones are stones anointed by the Holy Spirit. We are building the church, the bride of Christ, on the cornerstone that is the Lord himself. This is another kind of movement in our lives: building.
Professing. We can walk as much as we want, and we can build many things, but if we do not profess Jesus Christ, things go wrong. We may become a charitable non-governmental organization but not the church, the bride of the Lord. When we are not walking, we stop moving. When we are not building on the stones, what happens? The same thing that happens to children on the beach when they build sand castles: everything is swept away, there is no solidarity. When we do not profess Jesus Christ, the saying of Léon Bloy comes to mind: “Anyone who does not pray to the Lord prays to the devil.” When we do not profess Jesus Christ, we profess the worldliness of the devil, a demonic worldliness.
Journeying, building, professing. But things are not so straightforward, because in journeying, building, and professing there can sometimes be jolts, movements that are not properly part of the journey, movements that pull us back.
This Gospel continues with a situation of a particular kind. The same Peter who professed Jesus Christ now says to him: You are the Christ, the son of the living God. I will follow you, but let us not speak of the cross. That has nothing to do with it. I will follow you on other terms, but without the cross. When we journey without the cross, when we build without the cross, when we profess Christ without the cross, we are not disciples of the Lord, we are worldly. We may be bishops, priests, cardinals, popes, but not disciples of the Lord.
My wish is that all of us will have the courage, yes, the courage, to walk in the presence of the Lord, with the Lord’s cross; to build the church on the Lord’s blood, which was poured out on the cross; and to profess the one glory: Christ crucified. And in this way, the church will go forward.
My prayer for all of us is that the Holy Spirit, through the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary, our mother, will grant us this grace: to walk, to build, and to profess Jesus Christ crucified.