22nd Sunday in Ordinary time: Mt 16:21-27
21 JFrom that time on Jesus began to say plainly to his disciples, “I must go to Jerusalem and suffer much from the elders, the chief priests, and the teachers of the Law. I will be put to death, but three days later I will be raised to life.”
22 Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. “God forbid it, Lord!” he said. “That must never happen to you!”
23 Jesus turned around and said to Peter, “Get away from me, Satan! You are an obstacle in my way, because these thoughts of yours don’t come from God, but from human nature.”
24 Then Jesus said to his disciples, “If anyone wants to come with me, he must forget himself, carry his cross, and follow me.
25 For whoever wants to save his own life will lose it; but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.
26 Will people gain anything if they win the whole world but lose their life? Of course not! There is nothing they can give to regain their life.
27 For the Son of Man is about to come in the glory of his Father with his angels, and then he will reward each one according to his deeds.”
Other readings: Jeremiah 20:7-9; Psalm 63:1-5, 7-8; Romans 12:1-2
Having revealed to the disciples that he is the Messiah, Jesus stuns them by saying he is going to be put to death by the Jewish leaders in Jerusalem. This is the first of three occasions when Jesus speaks about this to his disciples (see Matthew 17:22-23, 20:17-19).
This makes no sense to the disciples. How could the Messiah, the centuries-old hope of Jewish deliverance, be rejected and put to death by their own leaders? How could God allow it? What would be the point? Why would the Messiah suffer? Suffering in the minds of many Jews was still associated with sin and God’s judgment.
Having just been told he is the rock upon which the Church will be built, Peter temporarily becomes shifting sand. He voices his fear and frustration to Jesus:
“That must never happen to you.” Jesus replies with a strong rebuke, echoing the dismissal he gave directly to Satan when he was tempted in the wilderness (Matthew 4:10). The strength of Jesus’s rebuke indicates the seriousness of the temptation being placed before him.
Jesus may well have compounded the disciples’ confusion by going on to talk about carrying crosses and losing your life to save it. We have the benefit of seeing things after the Resurrection, so Jesus’s words carry the deep truth about laying down our own lives to live for him.
Jesus offers the disciples two glimmers of hope. First he tells them he will be raised from the dead (verse 21) and then he tells them that he will return in glory with the angels when he will judge people according to their deeds (verse 27).
The disciples must have been very confused by what Jesus tells them here but they don’t give up. What can we learn from this?
What do you think Jesus means when he says, “whoever loses his life for my sake will find it”? What does this mean for you in your daily life?
Give thanks that Jesus was prepared to do the will of his Father, even though this involved suffering and ultimately death.
Humbly come before God. Ask for his grace to help you to obey him day by day and live a life that pleases him rather than choosing your own comfort.
Meditate on these verses from Romans 12:1-2: “So then, my brothers and sisters, because of God’s great mercy to us I appeal to you: offer yourselves as a living sacrifice to God, dedicated to his service and pleasing to him. This is the true worship that you should offer. Do not conform yourselves to the standards of this world, but let God transform you inwardly by a complete change of your mind. Then you will be able to know the will of God – what is good and is pleasing to him and is perfect.”
Lectio Divina is an ancient tradition of reading and engaging with God’s Word
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