27 August 2011


22nd Sunday in Ordinary Time

Mt 16:21-27

         One of the well-known Old Testament prophets is Jeremiah.  His story is likewise one of the most dramatic!  The Liturgy of the Word this Sunday opens with his dramatic indictment of God: “You have seduced me, Lord, and I have let myself to be seduced….”  Jeremiah accuses Yahweh of enticing and fooling him into becoming His prophet, for now he suffers on account of the mission he reluctantly received from Him.  Jeremiah was such a melancholic and heartbroken prophet!  To begin with, he does not want the ministry he has to fulfill and so he goes around carrying it like any heavy burden.  If becoming a preacher were a job, he did not apply for it.  And what makes the load heavier on his shoulders is the fact that because of his pronouncements in the name of Yahweh his own countrymen turned hostile against him.  “I am a daily laughing-stock, everybody’s butt,” he says.  He continues, “The word of the Lord has meant for me insult, derision, all day long.”  All these he endures because he fulfills his mandate from God to warn the people of Judah and Jerusalem that they will be defeated by the Babylonians and be exiled because of their sins.  Obeying God causes him such pain: he is attacked by his own people, imprisoned, tortured, and isolated from his loved ones.
          Like you and I, Jeremiah is not a robot; he is made of flesh and blood, capable of being hurt, afraid, resentful, and confused.  He wants to quit and let God worry about His own business with the people of Judah and Jerusalem.  But like fire in his heart, fulfilling God’s command refuses to die but steadily consumes him.  To make matters even more worse for him, Jeremiah has no other human to turn to; no one to pour his heart out and console him in the end.  People ignore him, going about their normal chores.  Is it not a fact of life that when our face falls the sun continues to rise?  Laugh and the whole world will laugh with you.  Cry but the world continues laughing.  Worse, the world may be laughing at you when you cry.  Suffering happens while the sun rises and sets, while business is as usual, while people go to work and the young to school, while nothing seems to be more than the ordinary.  
         As it was in the days of Jeremiah so it is in the days of Jesus in the Gospel.  Our dear Lord has His own troubles on account of His messianic mission.  Today, He speaks openly about His impending rendezvous with death in Jerusalem.  He views His suffering as a necessary component of His liberating message to the whole world.  It is not His Father’s plan for Him to be mangled and murdered, but His staring at death straight in the eye is simply consequential to His fidelity to God.  Jesus’ relationship with God, His Father, involves personal suffering in the form of rejection, ridicule, and even death.  Violent death.
          As it is with Jesus so is it with you and me: suffering on account of our fidelity to God comes as an indispensable reality in our discipleship.  As far as faithfulness to God our Father is concerned, we follow the path traced for us by the One who carried a cross and was nailed to it.  There is no other way.  The cross is the law of discipleship.  Without it, we may be disciples of anyone except Jesus.  For a cross-less Christ is a deception and a Christ-less cross, perdition. 
To understand Jesus is to understand the cross.  This is what Simon Peter failed to understand in the Gospel today.  To love Jesus is to love the cross.  This is the difficulty of many from the time of Simon Peter to ours.  And if the ultimate joy of any disciple is to become like his master (and, indeed, it is!), there is no other way we can become like Jesus apart from the cross to which we may even be crucified like Him.  We have no option, unless we decide to live apart from Christ.  And anyone who hinders us from embracing the cross is Satan as Simon Peter is Satan to Jesus in this regard.
Indeed, in our following of the Lord, sometimes what proves to be more difficult is not what we have to give up but what we need to embrace.  The cross is certainly the first among those we must embrace…freely, joyfully, quietly, faithfully, and, most of all, lovingly.
What is your cross?  How do you carry it?  Do you carry it at all?  Please do not forget to carry it with Jesus.  Only Jesus gives meaning to our crosses.  Carry your cross for the love of Jesus.  Only Jesus makes your cross meritorious.  With St. Paul the Apostle, who in the second reading today encourages us to offer our living bodies as a holy sacrifice to God, may we view our crosses in the light of our vocation to follow Christ and to proclaim Him to all.  In Col 1:24, he says, “I rejoice in my afflictions for your sake, and in my body I complete what is lacking in the sufferings of Christ for the sake of His Body, the Church.”
But while we need to recognize what our crosses in life are, it is equally important for us to know who and what are the Satans that tempt us away from them.  May we never give in to their enticements.  May we never be fooled by their appeal.  May we remain steadfast in our faith, in our hope, and in our love. 
If we are to be duped at all, it is always infinitely best to fall prey to God’s seduction.  Like Jeremiah, we cannot help but be consumed with our passion for God.  He, indeed, has seduced us.  And we willingly surrender to His embrace…on the cross.


At 5:12 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

such a s substantial article.
thank you for somehow it enlightens me..

god bless..
more power...

At 6:14 AM , Blogger L Garcia Muro said...

Thank you for sharing.



At 10:55 PM , Blogger Fr. Bobby said...

praise God!

thank you very much for picking up your "crumbs".

-fr. bob


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