HOMILY FOR THE 22ND SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME YEAR A.
THEME: Living in Christ rather than existing in the World.
BY: Fr Donatus Onumaechi.
Jer.20:7-9; Ps.63; Rom.12:1-2; Mt.16:21-27
On this Sunday we are given these texts above for our reflection. It is for us to know that we are meant to be living and not just existing. There is difference between existing and living. To exist is simply to have the lungs breathing and the heart beating; to live is to be alive in a world where everything is worthwhile, where there is peace in the soul, joy in the heart and a thrill in every moment. And Jesus gives us the recipe for life as distinct from existence.
Looking at the gospel text Jesus reminds his disciples of his imminent suffering and death. Although the disciples had grasped the fact that Jesus was God’s Messiah, they still had not grasped what that great fact meant. To them, it meant something totally different from what it meant to Jesus. They were still thinking in terms of a conquering Messiah, who would sweep the Romans from Palestine and lead Israel to power. That is why Jesus commanded them to silence; “then Jesus ordered his disciples not to tell anyone that he was the Messiah.” If they had gone out to the people and preached their own ideas, all they would have succeeded in doing would have been to raise a tragic rebellion. Before they could preach that Jesus was the Messiah, they had to learn what that meant.
Peter’s reaction shows how far the disciples where from realizing just what Jesus meant when he claimed to be the Messiah and the Son of God. So He began to seek to open their eyes to the fact that for him there was no way but the way of the cross. “He must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised.” Then comes Peter’s objection, “God forbid, Lord! This shall never happen to you.” Peter had been brought up on the idea of a Messiah of power and glory and conquest. To him, therefore, the idea of a suffering Messiah, the connection to a cross with the work of the Messiah, was unbelievable. Instantly Peter was rebuked by Jesus, “Get behind me, Satan!”
What are the Satans in your life. Know that any force, any influence, and any power which seek to make human desires take the place of the divine imperative is a Satan.
However, it is interesting to look at the interpretation of the Jesus’ rebuke of Peter, “Get behind me Satan.” On this Origen suggested that Jesus was saying to Peter, ‘Peter, your place is behind me, not in front of me. It is your place to follow me in the way I choose, not to try to lead me in the way you would like me to go.’ Therefore, Jesus does not banish Peter from His presence; rather, it recalls him to his proper place, as a follower walking in the footsteps of Him. This is true for all of us that we must always take the way of Christ and never seek to compel him to take our way.
Having done this, Jesus confronts us with the challenge of the Christian life. There are three things which people should be prepared to do if they are to live the Christian life. “Jesus told his disciples, if any man would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.” Thus, the three things are: Christians must deny themselves;
Christians must take up a cross;
and Christians must follow Jesus Christ.
This is what it really means to be living in Christ, and not existing in the world. St Paul says, “I appeal to you, my brethren, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice.” He did not say a sacrifice or existing sacrifice but as a living sacrifice, which is holy and acceptable to God. Jesus then concludes his teaching with a warning to us all; “For whoever would save his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. For what will it profit a man, if he gains the whole world and forfeits his life?”
Life is going somewhere; and life is going to judgement. In any sphere of life, inevitably there comes the day of reckoning. There is no escape from the fact that Christianity teaches that after life there comes the judgement. People who selfishly hug life to themselves, people whose first concern is their own safety, security and comfort, are in heaven’s eyes the failures, however rich and successful and prosperous they may seem to be. Those who spend themselves for others, and who live life as a gallant adventure, are the men and women who receive heaven’s praise and God’s reward.
God bless you
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