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Faith without the cross is not a faith that can save

Archbishop Wenski's homily at St. Helen Church on her feast day

Archbishop Thomas Wenski preached this homily at St. Helen Church, Lauderdale Lakes, during a trilingual Mass Aug. 18, 2019, on the feast of the parish’s patroness, St. Helen.

Today’s Gospel is a short Gospel. So maybe the homily should be short too? Father Lucien told me to preach in English, Spanish and Creole. So, it’ll probably be shorter than if he had asked me to preach in English, Spanish, Creole, Tagalog and Polish.

Jesus speaks about setting the world on fire. He says this as he journeys towards Jerusalem, for what would be his last trip. For he is going to Jerusalem to die, and to die on a cross. His death on the cross is the baptism that he is talking about: We are baptized into dying and rising of the Lord through water; but, for Jesus, his baptism was his “Passover” from death to life on Mount Calvary.

Archbishop Thomas Wenski receives the offertory gifts during Mass at St. Helen Parish in Lauderdale Lakes Aug. 18. He celebrated a special trilingual Mass for the feast day of St. Helen. Looking on is Father Lucien Pierre, St. Helen's pastor.

Photographer: COURTESY

Archbishop Thomas Wenski receives the offertory gifts during Mass at St. Helen Parish in Lauderdale Lakes Aug. 18. He celebrated a special trilingual Mass for the feast day of St. Helen. Looking on is Father Lucien Pierre, St. Helen's pastor.

What is this fire that he’s talking about? It’s fire of the Holy Spirit, it’s what we ask for when we pray: Come, Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of your faithful and kindle in them the fire of your love. Jesus wants to set the world on fire with his fire, God’s fire: the fire of God’s love.

Jodi a, Jezi di nou li vini mèt difè sou tè a: difè sa a se difè Lespri Sen an, se difè renmen Bondye a. Se difè sa a ka renouvle fas tè a. Li di nou sa pandan li se sou wout Jerizalèm kote li pral mouri a poutèt renmen li renmen nou. Yo di, wi pa monte mòn; men, Jezi li bay Papa l yon “wi” ki fè monte Mòn Kalvè a. Se la li aprann nous a renmen ye tout bon vre.

Ven, Espíritu Santo, llena los corazones de tus fieles, y enciende en ellos el fuego de tu amor. El fuego del que Jesús habla hoy es el fuego del amor de Dios; y el bautismo del que habla es el bautismo de su muerte en la Cruz. Pues, en la cruz del Señor vemos lo profundo y lo grande del amor de Dios, un amor que es mucho más que un sentimiento o una emoción vaga. El amor de Dios se expresa en hechos, en compromisos. Se expresa perfectamente en el sacrificio de la Cruz.

Jesus of course tells us: love one another – but at the Last Supper when he washed the disciples’ feet and gave us the Holy Eucharist, he says: Love one another as I have loved you. What does that mean? To find out, we can look at the cross.

There on the cross, we learn that love, God’s love, a love that is strong like fire is a love that is self-sacrificing, that is self-giving. Jesus came to do his Father’s will, and he let nothing stop him. He was committed to the very end, dying on the cross. And love is commitment. Love is not a sugary, sweet emotion or sentiment, it is a commitment to the very end. A commitment that demands that we endure everything as we seek to love as Jesus loved; it is a commitment that even demands that we forgive everything as Jesus did on the cross. “Father, forgive them they do not know what they do.”

Jodi a, se fete n ap fete patwon pawas nou, Sentelen. L al nan Tè Sent pou l chache kote kwa kote yo te kloure Jezi te ye. L tal fè sa paske li te byen konprann yon lafwa san lakwa pa ka sove. Konsa,li tal cheche dekouvri kote kwa a te ye a, paske li te vle pou legliz pa janm bliye wòl lakwa jwe nan delivrans nou. Wout laglwa leve byen vivan pase pa chemen lakwa.

Santa Helena, patrona de esta parroquia, unos siglos después de la muerte y resurrección de Jesucristo, viajó desde Roma a Jerusalén en busca de la cruz en la que Jesús fue clavado. Esa devoción de Santa Helena hacia la cruz de Jesucristo nos ayuda a comprender que una fe sin la cruz no puede salvar. El camino hacia la Gloria pasa por el sendero de la cruz.

St. Helen, whose feast day we remember today, has a very particular devotion to the Cross of Christ. In fact, as a pilgrim to the Holy Land, she unearthed the true cross on which our Savior had been crucified. And if our churches, and our homes, are adorned with images of the cross and of the crucified one, we can give much credit to St. Helen. She reminds us that a faith without the cross is not the faith of Jesus Christ, a faith without the cross is not a faith that can save.

In these brief words of Jesus in our Gospel today, we learn that the road to glory – not the earthly glory that too often seduces us and leads us along false paths – but the heavenly glory that he promises us, the road to that glory passes along the way of the cross.

Mete difè renmen Bondye nan kè n menm jan Sentelen te fè, se konsa pawas la ap tounen yon flanmbo kap bay limyè ak chalè pou n renouvle fas tè a.

Que el fuego del Amor Divino ilumine nuestros corazones – para que llevando la cruz de Cristo podamos renovar esta tierra.

As we walk that way, the way of the cross, as brothers and sisters of the Lord, may we seek to enkindle in our lives the fire of God’s love. Keep the flame alive in your hearts and in your lives.

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