Jeremiah 20:7-9; Palm 63:2-6, 8-9; Romans 12:1-2; Matthew 16:21-27
First Reading: In this last of Jeremiah’s “confessions” the prophet voices the pain that overwhelms his life as a result of committing himself to speak for the Lord He accuses the Lord of having duped, enticed, or compelled him into ministry. He claims the Lord forced him into speaking truth to power. As a result, Jeremiah’s life is full of pain, sorrow, rejection, and derision.
Psalm 63: Psalm 63 is a psalm of confidence in God’s love, care, and protection which begins with a strong, overwhelming yearning for God. God is to the psalmist as water is to parched earth — the very source of life.
Second Reading: Today’s two verses from Paul’s letter to the Romans are from the beginning of the 12th chapter. In these verses Paul instructs the Romans on how they responsibly live in light of the free gift of justification in Christ. They cannot live with disregard for their actions. God holds them accountable for now in Christ, they must imitate him by offering their bodies as living sacrifices.
Gospel: In today’s Gospel passage, after Peter proclaims Jesus to be the Christ, the Son of the living God, Jesus predicts his Passion, Death, and Resurrection for the first time to his disciples.
Reflection: In today’s Gospel, Jesus predicts his Passion, Death and Resurrection for the first time to his disciples. He connects his ministry and identity as the Christ or Messiah of God with suffering and death. This was not the common understanding of the Messiah, so it is understandable that Peter reacts by denying such a fate for the Messiah. Jesus rebukes Peter by calling him Satan, one traditionally associated with obstructing God’s wishes and intentions. Peter is accused of thinking in human terms and not with the renewed mind necessary to know and discern God’s will.
Jesus, addressing all the disciples, clarifies for them what true discipleship entails. The cost of discipleship involves denying oneself, taking up one’s cross, and following Jesus. It demands being willing to let go rather than hang on to life. It also demands conduct that is in line with God’s will and desire. Jesus will base his final judgment not on our words alone, but on how we demonstrate them in our actions. Jesus, the Messiah, is the suffering servant of God. Those who follow him are called to be suffering servants as well.
Authentic discipleship doesn’t require us to hunt for suffering, however. Being faithful to Jesus will bring enough as it is. This is so because living and witnessing to gospel values challenges so many different values that society touts as one that will bring us happiness. Ultimately, though, we find that only living gospel values brings us lasting happiness, even though we must die to self in the process. All who wish to be faithful to Jesus’ call to gospel living must be prepared to suffer – and also be prepared to receive new life. The life of Jesus offers is worth any price!
Question for reflection: How have I experienced God’s loving embrace in the midst of the challenges and difficulties of my discipleship?
Copyright © 2017, Scott W. Eakins. All Rights Reserved.