Jeremiah 20:7-9Ps 63:2-6, 8-9Romans 12:1-2Matthew 16:21-27www.usccb.org/bible/readings/090317.cfm
USCCB Podcast of the Readings:ccc.usccb.org/cccradio/NABPodcasts/17_09_03.mp3
A reading from the Holy Gospel according Matthew.
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.”
Good News Reflection: You duped me, Lord!
This Sunday’s first reading is one of my personal favorites. I have often felt the way Jeremiah does here. I have yelled at God, “You duped me, O Lord, and I let myself be duped!” And I allow it again and again. “You knew this would happen, Lord! Why did you lead me into this trial?” Have you ever felt that way?
Why do we let him do this to us? Why do we trust God even though he leads us into difficult situations? Why do we follow Jesus into giving our help and love to others even though it’s going to feel very uncomfortable if not downright painful?
Walking with God and serving his kingdom is an adventure. We can expect the unexpected, and unfortunately in this world that includes suffering — denying ourselves the opportunity to pursue self-centered agendas, taking up crosses, and following Jesus all the way to Calvary (but then of course, all the way to resurrection, too, as explained in the Gospel reading).
Because we love God, we are willing to offer ourselves as a living sacrifice, like the second reading asks us to do. This is the highest form of worship; it’s a spiritual communion that we experience outside of the Eucharistic liturgy of Mass. In union with Jesus, we are the Eucharist.
As Jeremiah’s complaint shows us, we can safely complain to God. We can tell him, without getting punished, that we do not like working for him. Complaining to others, however, is a sin because it causes gossip and prejudices and makes God look bad.
Asking for prayer support during our trials is important, and we must keep doing this, but complaining to others shows how little we trust God. Eventually, we will see the good that comes from our sacrifices, and this is what we should communicate to others.
Questions for Personal Reflection:
How do you feel when you do a good deed and it later works against you? Have you said “no” to allowing it to happen again? What brings the healing love of Jesus to you to help you recover?
Questions for Community Faith Sharing:
What unexpected sufferings have you encountered while giving someone a gift of unconditional love or while doing some other service for the kingdom of God? How did you feel about God at that time? Was the cross you carried worth all the hardships? Explain.
Beloved Lord, teach me how to detach myself from my personal agenda and my earthly affections. May the Holy Spirit instill in me Your thoughts and Your endless love. Amen.
© 2017 by Terry A. Modica