Theme: WE LOVE AND SERVE, WE SUFFER AND SACRIFICE AND WE SANCTIFY AND SAVE THE WORLD!
- Jeremiah 20:7-9;
- Psalm 62:2-6. 8-9. R/ v. 2;
- Romans 12:1-2
- Matthew 16:21-27
Today is the 22nd Sunday in Ordinary Time, Liturgical Year A. The gospel today tells us that Jesus had to suffer, to die, and to rise from the dead on the third day! The gospel also tells us that Peter tried to prevent Jesus from going to the cross, but Jesus rebuked him and called him Satan, because the way he thought was man’s way, not God’s way!
Man wanted a political, nationalistic and military Messiah, but God wanted a spiritual, loving and suffering Messiah!
More importantly, the gospel today tells us to carry our crosses and follow Jesus in his suffering, death and resurrection and we will find life for ourselves and for the whole world! Indeed, we have to love and serve, but we have to love and serve until we suffer and sacrifice, and we have to suffer and sacrifice until we sanctify and save the world!
That is what Jesus Christ did and that is what we must do!
But today there are those who suffer and sacrifice not to love and serve, nor to sanctify and save the world; but to hate, to take revenge, to make war, to kill, to do violence and to condemn the world! They kill in the name of God and they believe that they will go to heaven and their innocent victims will go to hell! They preach the bad news through the Internet and they recruit members through the internet! We have to preach the good news through the Internet! We have to preach the good news of God’s love, mercy, forgiveness and salvation!
The first reading follows the theme of the gospel. The first reading tells us that Jeremiah preached the word of God and he was persecuted. He was insulted and derided.
The rejection and suffering of Jeremiah prefigured the rejection and suffering of Jesus Christ himself! (Mt 16:14; NJBC)
The first reading also tells us implicitly that Jeremiah had an intimate relationship with God. That is why he could preach the word of God even in the face of persecution and suffering! In that he also prefigures Jesus Christ who had an intimate relationship with God as Son and Father! We have to have an intimate relationship with God in order to preach the good news and to carry our crosses and follow Jesus!
The responsorial psalm tells us about the intimate relationship of love between God and the psalmist! (NJBC) The responsorial psalm has four stanzas. The first stanza (v.2) tells us of the longing of the psalmist for God! Thus the response:
“For you my soul is thirsting, O Lord my God.” (Ps 62:2; SM)
The second stanza (vv. 3-4) is a “prayer to see God in the temple”. The third stanza (vv. 5-6) is a “prayer that the psalmist may be able to go on blessing and praising God”. The fourth stanza (vv. 8-9) is an “expression of intimacy with God”.
Note that in verse 4a, God’s love is prized above life:
“For your love is better than life”!
Again, it is most important that we have an intimate relationship of love with God!
The second reading tells us to offer our bodies as living sacrifices to God! The second reading tells us not to offer dead animals as sacrifices to God as the Jews and the pagans do! We offer our bodies as living sacrifices to God by doing the will of God! By doing what is right! By doing good! (NJBC)
Today we thank God our Father for his Son Jesus Christ who suffered, died and rose from the dead and gave us the Holy Spirit, and we ask God our Father to continue to give us the Holy Spirit through his Son Jesus Christ, so that we will have an intimate relationship of love with him, and so that we will preach the good news and carry our crosses and follow his Son Jesus Christ in his suffering, death and resurrection, and so that we will find life for ourselves and for the whole world! Amen!
Parish Priest of St Mary, Tawau, Sabah East Malaysia.