【英汉主日分享】| OFFER LIFE IF YOU DON’T WANT TO LOSE IT（22nd Sunday in Ordinary Time）
22nd Sunday in Ordinary Time —Year A
Fr. Jijo Kandamkulathy CMF
Gospel: Matthew 16:21-27
A Reading from the Holy Gospel according to Matthew,
Glory to you, O Lord!
From that time on, Jesus began to show his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer greatly from the elders, the chief priests, and the scribes, and be killed and on the third day be raised. Then Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him, "God forbid, Lord! No such thing shall ever happen to you." He turned and said to Peter, "Get behind me, Satan! You are an obstacle to me. You are thinking not as God does, but as human beings do." Then Jesus said to his disciples, "Whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me. For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. What profit would there be for one to gain the whole world and forfeit his life? Or what can one give in exchange for his life? For the Son of Man will come with his angels in his Father's glory, and then he will repay everyone according to his conduct.
The Gospel of the Lord.
Praise to You, Lord Jesus Christ.
Homily: OFFER LIFE IF YOU DON’T WANT TO LOSE IT
the apostles were convinced that the kingdom of God was imminent. But they believed in an earthly kingdom. They realized that their master was the Christ, the long-awaited "Son of David.” They had followed him to see their dreams of glory fulfilled. The only question which, according to them, was still pending was to determine who would be entitled to the first places (Mk 9:34).
It is in the context of these expectations that the first of the three announcements of the Passion, found in the Gospel, is placed. He does not want them to follow him lolling in vain illusions. To avoid any ambiguity, he openly declares that he is not walking towards triumph, but he is going to Jerusalem to suffer a lot, to be killed, and be raised again on the third day.
The disciples cannot understand; they have learned from the scribes that the Messiah cannot die. Peter, in the name of all, reacts. He is not willing to commit himself to an absurd project. Peter takes the Master apart, and questions the Master’s intent. Jesus is almost irritated: "Get behind me, Satan." "Get behind me”—he says—“Follow my steps, do not try to go before me, as one who claims to lead the way.” This plan is drawn by the Father and Peter makes a proposal that comes from worldly wisdom, from human foolishness that is senseless in God's eyes.
Peter is acting just like Satan who tried to convince Jesus to focus on dominion, on the conquest of power—a typical strategy of Satan that he had faced earlier (Mt 4:8-10). Now, the same temptation advanced by Peter cannot but be responded with the same hardness, “Off you Satan!” Simon had professed his faith in the Son of the living God. Now, he becomes a stumbling block because he lets himself be guided by human reasoning.
After having rebuked Peter, Jesus turns to all and unequivocally puts forward his demands. There is no attempt to mitigate them, to make them more acceptable. Three imperatives characterize the radicalism of a choice that does not admit delays nor second thoughts: "Deny yourself, take up your cross, follow me."
Deny yourself means you stop thinking about yourself. It is the rejection of the pursuit of one’s own interest, the will to achieve gratification, acknowledgements and benefits. Even in the most pure acts of love, there is often some veiled forms of selfishness and ambition.
The second imperative, take up your cross, does not refer to the need to patiently endure the small or big tribulations of life, even less, the exaltation of pain as a means to please God. The cross is the sign of love and of total gift. To carry it after Christ means to follow the way he has trodden: to offer one’s life for his same ideals, confront even death, if needed.
The third imperative, follow me, is to take part in the project of Christ, bet your life on love with him.