Father Nathan Homily | August 30, 2020
“Whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me.”
The Story of Jesus and Peter
“Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah. For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my heavenly Father. And so I say to you, you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church”
Jesus 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.”
Special calling demands tones of responsibilities…PETER YOU ARE ROCK…. HENCE YOU GOT TO BE ROCK … “BE SOLID AND STRONG” …
Twenty-second Sunday in Ordinary Time
What profit would there be for one to gain the whole world
and forfeit his life? MT 16:26
Outward Sign of Our Love of God
I love to see you in beautiful churches, with music and warm light and a costly tabernacle. I love to see you as my king, savior, and Messiah but not on the CROSS and asking me to do the same.
This Weeks Gospel
This reading is closely tied to last week’s Gospel lesson. In verse 16, Peter confessed his faith that Jesus was the Messiah, the Son of God. Now Jesus shows him what messiahship and discipleship entail.
Prior to chapter 16, Jesus spent much of his time addressing crowds, working miracles, and verbally jousting with scribes and Pharisees. With the exception of 16:1-4, Jesus spends chapters 16-18 instructing the disciples—preparing them for Jerusalem and his cross. Then in 19:1 he leaves Galilee to go to Judea—to Jerusalem—to his death.
Peter has just been congratulated as the rock on which Jesus will build his church. He is comfortable in a theology of grace and glory. Suddenly that rock looks sandy and unsafe. Jesus calls him abruptly out of his comfort zone into the real world where suffering must be faced is used here as a proverbial term for suffering and agony, not referring specifically to Jesus’ crucifixion).
Peter Understands Jesus as the Messiah
Peter has just identified Jesus as the Messiah, and Jesus blessed him for his confession of faith. However, Jesus told the disciples not to tell anyone, because they do not yet understand what messiahship means. They still think of the messiah as a warrior-king like David. In verse 21, Jesus outlines for them what to expect of the messiah, and it is the exact opposite of their expectations.
Jesus Knowingly Risks Everything
“Jesus began to show” He will tell the disciples over and over because they are simply unable to grasp what he is saying. Not until they see the resurrected Christ will the truth begin to break through their prior understanding.
Jesus will suffer “from the elders, chief priests, and scribes”. These three groups make up the Sanhedrin, the supreme court of the Jews. It is not the worst of men who will kill Jesus, but the best. They have no legal authority to impose a death sentence but will decide on behalf of the nation that Jesus must die. They will then persuade the people to support the sentence and the Romans to carry it out.
Matthew was writing for the Christian community in the bitterest days of persecution – AD 80-90. Hence, he emphasizes Jesus’ teaching that a man who is faithful may die for his Faith in Jesus, but in death, he will live.
We Must Risk For Jesus
The man who risks everything for Christ finds life. On the other hand, the man who abandons his Faith for safety or security may live, but he is actually dying. History is full of noble souls who risked their lives for the sake of others. If certain scientists had not been prepared to take risks, many a medical cure would not exist. If mothers were not prepared to take risks, no child would ever be born. If we’re honest with ourselves, we know that there are constant opportunities for us to choose to be true to the Gospel. But the world is essentially opposed to the Gospel and those who live out its truths
This Week’s Readings
Christian discipleship and Mission
Readings for this Sunday remind us that Christians are called to live their lives in a different way from others around them. Christian discipleship demands honesty, the willingness to suffer (“take up your cross”), generosity (“to offer our bodies as a living sacrifice to God”), and readiness to follow Jesus by obeying his commandment of love.
Today’s readings explain how this Christian mission should be accomplished. They explain how we should know and live the will of God, accepting the suffering involved in it. These readings also tell us that suffering is an integral part of our earthly life, but it is also our road to glory. There is no crown without a cross.
After Peter had confessed his Faith that Jesus was the Messiah, the Son of God, Jesus, in today’s Gospel, explained to the apostles what the Messianic Mission and their responsive discipleship really meant.
Jesus realized that, although he had predicted his suffering and death three times, his disciples were still thinking in terms of a conquering Messiah, a warrior king, who would sweep the Romans from Palestine and lead Israel to power. That is why Peter could not bear the idea of a suffering Messiah. It was then that Jesus rebuked him so sternly, “Get behind me, Satan,” in an attempt to nullify what was, in fact, a temptation of the evil one urging Him to shrink from doing the work for which He had come.
It was the same kind of rebuke He had delivered to Satan in the wilderness. Origen suggests that Jesus was saying to Peter: “Peter, your place is behind me, not in front of me. It’s your job to follow me in the way I choose, not to try to lead me in the way YOU would like me to go.” Satan is banished from the presence of Christ, and Peter is recalled to become, again, Christ’s follower.
Three conditions of Christian discipleship:
After correcting Peter for trying to divert him from what would be his way of the cross in Jerusalem, Jesus declares three conditions for any who would become and live as his disciples:
- Deny yourself
- Take up your cross and
- Follow me
Self-denial means evicting selfish thoughts, desires, and tendencies from our hearts and letting God fill our hearts with Himself. It also means being cleansed of all evil habits, enthroning God in our hearts, and sharing Him with others.
Take Up Your Cross
Carrying the cross with Jesus always entails pain and suffering. Our personal sufferings become the cross of Jesus when:
1) we suffer by serving others selflessly;
2) we give ourselves — our health, wealth, time and talents – to others until it hurts us;
3) we join our physical, mental or emotional sufferings to Jesus’ and offer them with him to the Father in reparation for our sins and those of the world; and we work with the Spirit Who is purifying us through our personal sufferings or penitential practices.
Following Jesus means that, as disciples of Christ, we should live our lives according to the word of God by obeying Jesus’ commandment of love.
To follow someone who has asked us to “take up our cross” daily seems foolish. But in the words of the Venerable Archbishop Fulton Sheen,
“to be a fool for Christ is the greatest compliment the world can give. You and I are in good company, because most of the saints embraced the Cross of Christ and were considered fools for doing so.”
The Catechism teaches,
“The way of perfection,” that is, the path leading to holiness, “passes by way of the Cross” (CCC 2015).
“There is no holiness without renunciation and spiritual battle” (CCC 2015).
“Spiritual progress entails the ascesis and mortification that gradually lead to living in the peace and joy of the Beatitudes” (CCC 2015).
Have a Blessed Week,
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Past Messages from Father Nathan
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