Aug 30 2020 Reflection
Sunday 30 August 2020
First Reading: JER 20:7-9
My soul is thirsting for you, O Lord my God.
PS 63:2, 3-4, 5-6, 8-9
Second Reading: ROM 12:1-2
Gospel Reading: MT 16:21-27
Today’s Note: Twenty-second Sunday in Ordinary Time
Jesus began to show his disciples
that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer greatly
from the elders, the chief priests, and the scribes,
and be killed and on the third day be raised.
Then Peter took Jesus aside and began to rebuke him,
“God forbid, Lord! No such thing shall ever happen to you.”
He turned and said to Peter,
“Get behind me, Satan! You are an obstacle to me.
You are thinking not as God does, but as human beings do.”
Then Jesus said to his disciples,
“Whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself,
take up his cross, and follow me.
For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it,
but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.
What profit would there be for one to gain the whole world
and forfeit his life?
Or what can one give in exchange for his life?
For the Son of Man will come with his angels in his Father’s glory,
and then he will repay all according to his conduct.”
God forbid, Lord! (Matthew 16:22)
What a stunning reversal! You don’t confess someone as “the Son of the living God” and then turn around and scold them (Matthew 16:16)! What could have triggered such a strong reaction from Peter? The news that Jesus was going to “suffer greatly . . . and be killed” by Jerusalem’s religious leaders (16:21).
Of course, Peter had the purest of intentions when he rebuked Jesus; he couldn’t bear the thought of his beloved Master and friend suffering such a horrible fate.
But there may also have been a deeper motive in Peter’s actions. Perhaps he was eager to preserve Jesus’ image as an untouchable miracle worker so that he could be safe too. If he could keep Jesus from the cross, he wouldn’t have to face his own cross.
Peter had been with Jesus long enough to see that being a disciple meant risking people’s scorn and misunderstanding. It meant pouring out his life to God for the sake of the people around him. If Jesus was destined for the cross, then Peter might have to accept a similar fate. Better to shield Jesus from harm so that he could shield himself as well.
But Jesus would have none of it. So he told Peter that anyone who wanted to become like him had to take up his cross and follow in his footsteps (Matthew 16:24).
It’s tempting to keep Jesus at arm’s length so that he can’t get too close and ask too much of us. Jesus made it very clear: there is a cost to discipleship. It’s not always easy to follow the Lord and obey his commandments. But the glory of knowing Jesus’ love and the joy of sharing his mercy with people far outweigh any sacrifice we might have to make. Peter ultimately learned this, and so can we.
So take up your cross today. Try your best to follow in Jesus’ path of self-giving love.
“Lord, I don’t want to keep you at a distance. Teach me how to give of myself as you did.”