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Contemplating today's Gospel

Today's Gospel + homily (in 300 words)

Twenty-second Sunday in Ordinary Time (A)
1st Reading (Jer 20:7-9): You duped me, o Lord, and I let myself be duped; you were too strong for me, and you triumphed. All the day I am an object of laughter; everyone mocks me. Whenever I speak, I must cry out, violence and outrage is my message; the word of the Lord has brought me derision and reproach all the day. I say to myself, I will not mention him, I will speak in his name no more. But then it becomes like fire burning in my heart, imprisoned in my bones; I grow weary holding it in, I cannot endure it.
Responsorial Psalm: 62
R/. My soul is thirsting for you, o Lord my God.
O God, you are my God whom I seek; for you my flesh pines and my soul thirsts like the earth, parched, lifeless and without water.

Thus have I gazed toward you in the sanctuary to see your power and your glory, for your kindness is a greater good than life; my lips shall glorify you.

Thus will I bless you while I live; lifting up my hands, I will call upon your name. As with the riches of a banquet shall my soul be satisfied, and with exultant lips my mouth shall praise you.

You are my help, and in the shadow of your wings I shout for joy. My soul clings fast to you; your right hand upholds me.
2nd Reading (Rom 12:1-2): I urge you, brothers and sisters, by the mercies of God, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God, your spiritual worship. Do not conform yourselves to this age but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and pleasing and perfect.
Versicle before the Gospel (Cf. Eph 1:17-18): Alleluia. That the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, may the eyes of our hearts be enlightened, that you may know what is the hope that belongs to his call. Alleluia.
Gospel text (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."

“Whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me”

Fr. Vimal MSUSAI (Ranchi, Jharkhand, India)

Today, we consider that to see Jesus and follow Him means to have a mature obedience that enables us to listen and respond (response-able). And this is possible only in the person who is truly liberated from the childish cravings of the ego and passions: “Whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me” (Mt 16,24). To hear and respond to God’s call in our daily lives means that we possess the ability to forget ourselves and serve others. Only love makes such a risk possible (cf. Heb 5:8-9).

The sage Buddha tells that “To live a pure unselfish life, one must count nothing as one’s own in the midst of abundance.” A concrete example is the family life where parents have fully and generously dedicated themselves for the good of the children, perhaps even to the point of forgetting themselves. They choose to do so in order that their children will be well prepared for a better future. In so doing, the family will be one and united.

We have countless inspiring models from teachers, doctors, social workers, consecrated persons and saints. Pope Francis inspires us to “see” Jesus in our daily life, because “although the life of a person is in a land full of thorns and weeds, there is always space in which the good seed can grow. You have to trust in God!”

A grain of wheat can only be lifegiving once it falls to the ground and dies (cf. John 12:24). This is also true in Jesus who in dying will show all his love by giving his life. Thus, the example of the grain of wheat is the life of Jesus and of every disciple who wishes to serve him, witness to him and have life in him: “whoever loses his life for my sake will find it” (Mt 16:25). Amen!

Thoughts on Today's Gospel

  • “He who does not deny himself cannot approach Him who is above him. But if we abandon ourselves, where will we go outside of ourselves?” ((Saint Gregory the Great)

  • “This is not an ornamental cross or an ideological cross, but it is the cross of life, the cross of one’s duty, the cross of making sacrifices for others with. In assuming this attitude, these crosses, we always lose something. It is losing in order to win” (Francis)

  • “By his loving obedience to the Father, "unto death, even death on a cross" (Phil 2:8), Jesus fulfils the atoning mission of the suffering Servant, who will "make many righteous; and he shall bear their iniquities" (Is 53:11)” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, n. 623)

Other comments

“Whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me”

Fr. Joaquim MESEGUER García (Rubí, Barcelona, Spain)

Today, we can also see Peter —a most remarkable figure and great testimony and teacher of the faith—as a man of flesh and blood. With virtues and failings, as each one of us. We have to be grateful to the Evangelists for having realistically acquainted us with the personality of the first followers of Christ. Peter, who —as we read in the 21st Sunday’s Gospel— makes an excellent confession of faith, and deserves a great praise by Jesus and the promise of the maximum authority within the Church (cf. Mt 16:16-19), also receives a sharp reprimand from the Master, because, on his journey to faith, he still has a lot to learn: "Get behind me, Satan! You are an obstacle to me. You are thinking not as God does, but as human beings do." (Mt 16:23).

Listening to Jesus' scolding Peter gives us a good motive to make an examination of conscience about our Christian personality. Are we truly faithful to the teachings of Jesus, to the point of actually thinking like God, or are we rather adapting ourselves to the criteria and way of thinking of this world? Throughout history, the sons of the Church have fallen into the temptation of following this world thinking, of leaning on the material riches, of yearning for politic power or social prestige; and at times, we are keener on the worldly interests than in the spirit of the Gospel. Before these facts, we are asked once again the same question: “What profit would there be for one to gain the whole world and forfeit his life?” (Mt 16:26).

After clearing up these things, Jesus teaches us what thinking like God means: to love, with whatever is implied about denying ourselves in favor of our neighbor. This is why following Christ means taking up the Cross. It is a very tight following, because “with so good a friend and so good a captain at our side, who came forward first of all to suffer, one can bear everything. He helps us; He gives us strength; He never fails; He is a true Friend” (St. Teresa of Avila). And..., when the Cross is a sign of sincere love, then it becomes enlightening and a sign of salvation.