22nd Sunday of Ordinary Time, Cycle A
Theme : Lift up your cross, and God will bless your efforts!
1st Reading: Jeremiah 20:7-9
Responsorial Psalm: Ps 63
2nd Reading: Romans 12:1-2
Gospel : Matthew 16: 21-27
- I am not sure how many of you are old enough to remember the old-style missions that used to take place in parishes – usually conducted by the Redemptorists?
- They could be quite dramatic – with fire and brimstone preaching!
- Anyway, a story is told of the closing night of one mission.
- The preachers asked the congregation to hold up all their crosses to be blessed!
- A man created a bit of a stir when he hoisted up his wife as his cross for a blessing!
- Perhaps this is not as crazy as it may seem!
- The sacrament of marriage is a commitment to love as Christ loved the Church – a love that led to the cross!
- To fall in love – true love – involves sacrifice, self-giving and self-denial!
- The Prophet Jeremiah’s experience is mirrored by all of us committed to faithfully living our vocation!
- Suffering and persecution are inevitable!
- It’s good to know this right from the start – it is part of every good marriage preparation course!
- God does not deceive us that our vocation, our mission will be easy!
- The problem is that we are so often swept up in the promises of the world – promises that speak of fame, fortune, and picture-perfect lives – that we think this is what discipleship will be like too!
- But St. Paul warns us Christians not to model ourselves on the world around us!
- It is easy for us to be influenced by what everybody else thinks,
- To accept something because everybody else does!
- But to care more about the recognition of the world means to ignore the central image of our faith – the cross!
- We all find the cross difficult to accept!
- Peter did too!
- He could not accept that the Messiah would be humiliated by suffering and death!
- Jesus makes it very clear that Peter is looking at this with the eyes of the world!
- We cannot afford to make the same mistake!
- Every one of us needs to grasp the true meaning of carrying our cross!
- To take up our cross and follow Jesus is not about putting up with your bad luck if you cannot change it!
- Taking up our cross must be – like it was for Jesus – an act of love!
- Our crosses must be seen as invitations to love – to love him and our brothers and sisters, our entire world!
- To love like this means that we have to give up personal ambition and all selfishness!
- Catholic Christians cannot act in their own interests, or seek only what pleases them!
- They must be aware of the needs of others – and never more so than at this time!
- In my weekly email to parishioners this week, I wrote about this crucial moment in the history of the Church!
- We have been given an incredible opportunity as we struggle to emerge from this pandemic and the financial devastation it has caused!
- An opportunity to stand with all who are lost and suffering and show them the face of Christ!
- An opportunity to immerse ourselves fully into humanity’s struggles and bring healing and renewal!
- This is a time for conversion, for reawakening, for evangelization!
- We must not deceive ourselves – it will not be easy!
- But it is an opportunity, none the less!
- we are called to take up our crosses and meet the challenge!
- The years of preparation we have had in this parish have been for this moment!
- In Caesarea Philippi, Jesus understood that he MUST:
- Go to Jerusalem
- Die and
- Rise on the third day!
- This is the time for each one of us to stop pretending that our faith is private, that it requires just the minimal effort of weekly Mass attendance!
- This moment in history requires that all of us embrace the opportunity to be authentic, committed and generous missionary disciples of Jesus!
- Do you see the opportunity? Will you grasp it?
- Throughout the world, we are able to recognise a Catholic church by the crucifix and the Stations of the Cross that hang on its walls.
- Other Christians have adopted the cross without the figure of Jesus, as a symbol of the resurrection
- Catholic tradition prefers to emphasise the symbolism of love embodied in the suffering servant!
- So, let us take up our crosses and lift them high – God will bless our efforts to love!