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Homily by Fr. Paul Plante

20th Sunday in Ordinary Time

Year C

August 20, 1995

Scriptural Reference: Hebrews 12:1-4

     The author of  the letter to the Hebrews must have faced some very difficult times – and he must have noticed that others were facing difficult times. He reminds us that Jesus endured a lot – even the cross – but it is all worth it as we fix our sight on the final goal!

     The final advice from today’s segment of the letter to the Hebrews is advice we all need at some point or other in life: Do not grow despondent or abandon the struggle!

     The story of Jeremiah in the first reading seems to fit very well with what I am talking about. People want to get rid of Jeremiah and so they lower him in a deep pit or well in which he sinks in the mud at the bottom of the well.

     Have you ever felt that you were stuck in the mud at the bottom of a deep, dark hole? Where does one go from there? Are there situations that seem so desperate we are tempted to pray for death rather than the courage to continue?

     Are these words of Scripture written for you? “Do not grow despondent or abandon the struggle!” Did you ever come close to giving up? It may have been a time of depression. You do not even know why you get depressed. You get to the point where everything is an awful burden. It may be a time when you are overwhelmed by responsibilities – so many family members in need – so many bills – so many people depending on you. They all think you are the strong one; they all come to you for help!

     It may be something personal that makes you feel very bad about yourself – something that could end up being scandalous – something you have gotten yourself into that you cannot get out of! IT may be some sort of spiritual anguish. Everybody thinks you are so wonderful – such a good person – such a faithful Catholic and you are troubled with doubts, trying to be fervent and feeling empty. It does not even show of course but your heart is crushed by the hurt!

     In all our small daily problems and in our big occasional hurts we need to remember these words: do not grow despondent or abandon the struggle!

     The real defeat would not be for others to find out even the worst thing about us; the real defeat would be to give up. As followers of Jesus Christ, who went all the way to being crucified, we can never be people who give up!

     Beyond the cross, there is life,

     Beyond the hurt , there is joy,

     Beyond the struggle, there is serenity!

     In the power of Jesus Christ may we all be victorious!

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