15th Friday in Ordinary time, Yr. 2, Feast of St. Pio of Pietrelcina, September 23, 2022
Eccl 3:1-11, Ps 144: 1-4, Lk 9:18-22
I keep saying to myself that I do not have enough time to do everything I want to do. Does that happen to you? Well God gives us a very pointed reminder that what WE want to do, does not matter at all. The first reading today, from Ecclesiastes, reminds us that there is a RIGHT time for everything. Not OUR time, but God’s time. St. Pio of Pietrelcina, commonly referred to as Padre Pio, spent his entire life understanding that concept. The reality that his time did not matter at all, only God’s time mattered and everything we received from God, was a gift.
I have known several people in my lifetime who had the honor of meeting St. Pio. In one case, St. Pio told the man to marry the woman walking down the hall toward them! In every case where someone met him, his or her lives changed forever. St. Pio had an extraordinary reputation for holiness and spiritual insight. Thousands flocked to him so he could hear their confessions, seek consul or get spiritual direction. It is said that he could “see” into their soul and would challenge them about what they confessed. “Is that all you need to say?” he would ask, and the one confessing would know they had to tell him everything. There is so much we could say about him that this reflection would go on forever, so I encourage you to look him up and watch a few of the movies about him. There are especially good ones on the FORMED website. I do want to say that he received a special grace from God about eight years after his ordination. He received the stigmata, the fives wounds of Our Lord’s Passion on his own body. This made him the first stigmatized priest in the history of the Church.
Jesus, in the Gospel or St. Luke today, asks the question, “Who do the crowds say that I am?” For us, it seems like a silly question; of course, you are the Son of God! But Jesus was trying to find out who others thought He was. One could suppose that He was doing this to see how effective He had been in His ministry. If they recognized Him as the Messiah, would His ministry work be completed? Or, if they gave some vague answer, Jesus would have to work a while longer and probably with more radical means to get them to understand. Which of course, we know this to be the case.
When Peter answers, “The Christ of God,” Jesus rebukes him and says for them to not tell anyone. Jesus was not done with His ministry yet. He had a lot more work to do, but He also knew that most would never understand, and He would be rejected. According to St. Luke, this is the first time Jesus brought up His passion and death, all the suffering He would have to go through. This was a hard pill for the disciples to understand. How could their Messiah suffer, let alone die? The work of Jesus had only begun so why is Jesus talking about suffering? If only they knew what they would go through. With His small group of disciples, Jesus continues on His mission, teaching, working miracles and telling all he meets the good news of salvation. St. Pio was a living example of that ministry. By bearing the wounds of Christ, and ministering to all he met, St. Pio imitated Christ in all he had to give. St. Pio gave himself fully to God, to become a true disciple of Christ. Let us imitate St. Pio, and ultimately Christ, so we too can build that new temple, the one where God dwells in us, His Church.