03 September 2017
22nd Sunday in Ordinary Time
The Gospel Today
Mt 16: 21-27
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.”
Reflection (Sem. Eldrick S. Pena)
In the gospel, Jesus explicitly lays down the conditions for discipleship – denying one’s self and carrying one’s cross. The conditions are very clear and direct, no sugar-coating. Anyone who wishes to follow him will also suffer just as He has suffered.
Every time I would find myself in very difficult situations, I would always ask God: “Why does this have to happen to me?” And in my prayer, He would always make it clear and remind me that He never promised me that my life will be any better or I will not anymore experience problems and struggles when I decided to enter the seminary and follow Him.
And true enough, He did not deceive me. He was very honest and transparent in presenting His requirements: Denying one’s self, and carrying one’s cross. The cross is among the conditions that I have to embrace in following him. Being reminded of this gives me consolation and inspiration to carry on no matter how painful and difficult the situation is.
God allows us to suffer not because He is a masochist but that we may increase in faithfulness and trust in Him. Although suffering is inevitable, God’s promise of journeying with us through it is more primordial… “And they named him Emmanuel… the God who is with us…” God sees all our sufferings and walks with us to accompany us. We have a God who not only thinks of us but joins us in our suffering out of His great love for us. So why be afraid of the cross when it symbolises God’s love and His presence in our life?
Today God is inviting us to take courage and not to be afraid in carrying our crosses. The cross wouldn’t be that heavy at all for we are not going to carry it alone. We will carry it with Him. Amen.