Mt 16: 21-27

From that time on, Jesus began to show his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and undergo great suffering at the hands of the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised. And Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him, saying, “God forbid it, Lord! This must never happen to you.”

But he turned and said to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; for you are setting your mind not on divine things but on human things.”

Then Jesus told his disciples, “If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake will find it.

For what will it profit them if they gain the whole world but forfeit their life? Or what will they give in return for their life? “For the Son of Man is to come with his angels in the glory of his Father, and then he will repay everyone for what has been done.

New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved.

 

Sacrifice sometimes finds us

The disciples in today’s Gospel gradually came to see two facts about Jesus.  One, that he was the long-awaited Messiah.  Two, that he was to be a Suffering Messiah.  The disciples had to adjust to the latter.  It prompted Peter’s rebuke,  “God forbid it, Lord.”  To that, Jesus sharply replied, “Get behind me, Satan.”

Neither Peter nor Jesus looked for or desired suffering, but Jesus “must go to Jerusalem.”  And, for Peter, if any wish to be followers of Jesus, they must “deny themselves and take up their cross.”

Who of us looks for or desires suffering?  No one, though when our heart is stretched with self-emptying love, sometimes suffering and sacrifice find us.  For instance, teenagers may “find” it when they speak respectfully of others though they themselves might be disparaged.  Young adults may “find” it when they engage in relationships without pushing a self-seeking agenda.  Parents may “find” it when they worry about how their children are developing.  First-responders may “find” it as they risk their lives for others.  And, we may “find” it as we bear up emotionally with those difficulties in our country which seem crushing of our Christian spirit.

In our living and loving, and desire to contribute to a better world, how has suffering and sacrifice “found” us?  Is there comfort in knowing that Jesus was a Suffering Messiah, stretched with self-emptying love?

—Fr. Richard Baumann, SJ, is a regional vocation directors for the Midwest Jesuits.

 

Prayer

Blessed God, by your grace help me put forth all the effort I can in caring for my family, others, and our world and, at the same time, surrender with long-suffering and perseverance to that which I cannot do or solve.  Amen.

—Fr. Richard Baumann, SJ