BY: Fr Cyril Unachukwu CCE.

There is always the natural inclination in each of us to desire that people speak well of us and wish us well in life, and even pray that the best things of life should come to us. This is indeed a noble and praiseworthy desire. However, we must also be conscious of the limitations of human good wishes, because we do not often know the whole story. It is only God who knows the whole story and He alone knows how to lead us through this story, with all of its ups and downs; through all of the things that seem strange to us but that are essentially part of our story; to the full realization of the beauty of this story in our lives. May the grace of God keep us resolute and committed in order to bring our respective stories to a magnificent end; Amen.

Not every good wish is for our good; irrespective of how pleasant these wishes may seem to us. Also, not everything good and pleasant that we wish ourselves is necessary for us to live our respective stories. This must be said because there is always a purpose for which God created each and every one of us. By willing us and calling us into existence, God has foreseen a specific purpose for each one of us, which He never imposes nor forces on us. God allows us to freely cooperate with Him and to positively respond to all the graces He places at our disposal, in order to realise these purposes. Any wish that will not help us to achieve this purpose in life, to fulfil this mission in life, irrespective of how beautiful and attractive it is, is never for our good. This was actually the case in this uncommon scene between Jesus and Peter. It must have been striking how Peter, who in the preceding verses in Mt 16, professed the true identity of our Lord, would receive such strange rebuke in the Gospel Reading of today (Matthew 16:21-27); “get behind me, Satan! You are an obstacle in my path, because the way you think is not God’s way but man’s.” This was because in the identity of Christ, which Peter professed earlier, is contained also His purpose and mission. This later good wish of Peter was totally against the content and requirements of achieving that purpose and mission. Christ new His identity! He was very conscious of His mission! As true God, He was completely aware of the implications of this mission and of the intricacies therein involved. This was the background of His rebuking Peter, whose good wishes, if they had come to pass, would have worked against His realisation of this mission. If Jesus hadn’t suffered and died and rose from the dead, then He would not have been the true Messiah/Christ which Peter had professed.


The Prophet Jeremiah faced similar ordeal during his ministry as a true prophet of God in Israel. His mission included bringing back Israel to faithfulness to the covenant they made with God. He desired so much that people should see the divine hand in his ministry and at least treat him with dignity; but instead, as he confessed in the First Reading of today (Jer 20:7-9) “I am a daily laughing-stock, everybody’s butt. Each time I speak the word, I have to howl and proclaim: Violence and ruin! The word of the Lord has meant for me insult, derision, all day long.” People often mock others when they fail to realise the true meaning and content of their identity and mission. Just like good wishes could be distractions on the path of the realization of our proper mission in life, insults and derisions can also cause the same distractive effects. The awful feeling of being ridiculed and mocked has caused some people to take their lives and to fall short of achieving their God-given identity and mission. This same feeling has discouraged some persons from making further effort in the direction of their mission, leading them to give-up and to lose sight of the bright future that we dare to hope for. The remedy is knowing yourself and your mission and being connected always with the God who created you for such mission; and also being conscious of the fact that what we may humanly consider as failures, sometimes constitute the necessary elements in the direction of our realisation of our mission. This was true of our Lord Jesus Christ! This was also the fact about the Prophet Jeremiah! This is also true about all those who believe. So, “do not model yourselves on the behaviours of the world around you, but let your behaviours change, modelled by your new mind. This is the only way to discover the will of God and know what is good, what it is that God wants, what is the perfect thing to do” (Romans 12:1-2).

Lord God, Maker of all things and the Source of our being. You call us into existence out of Your infinite love and absolute freedom. In Your wisdom, You allot to each of us our respective missions and purposes in Life. Following the perfect example of Christ Your Son and by the power of the Holy Spirit, may we never lose sight of our mission as a result of the distractions of our daily lives, even when these distractions come to us in the forms of good wishes, mockery or insults; Amen. Happy Sunday;


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