Today’s evangelical passage (Cf. Matthew 16:21-27) is the continuation of last Sunday’s, which highlighted the profession of faith of Peter, “rock” on which Jesus wishes to build his Church. Today, in striking contrast, Matthew shows us the reaction of the same Peter when Jesus reveals to the disciples that He will suffer in Jerusalem, be killed and be raised (Cf. v. 21). Peter takes Jesus aside and rebukes Him because this – he says to Him – can’t happen to Him, to Christ. However, Jesus in turn rebukes Peter with harsh words: “Get behind Me, Satan! You are a hindrance to Me; for you are not on the side of God, but of men!” (v. 23). A moment earlier, the Apostle was blessed by the Father, because he had received from Him that revelation, he was a solid “rock” on which Jesus could build His community, and immediately after, he becomes an obstacle, a rock not on which to build but a stumbling block on the way of the Messiah. Jesus knew well that Peter and the others still had a long way to go to becoming His Apostles!
At that point, the Master turned to all those that followed Him, presenting clearly to them the way to follow: “If any man would come after Me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow Me” (v. 24). The temptation always, also today, is to want to follow a Christ without the cross, rather to teach God the right way, as Peter: “No, no Lord, not this, it will never happen.” However, Jesus reminds us that His way is the way of love, and there is no true love without the sacrifice of oneself. We are called not to allow ourselves to be absorbed by the vision of this world, but to be ever more aware of the need and effort for us Christians to walk counter-current and uphill.
Jesus completes His proposal with words that express a great wisdom that is always valid, because they challenge the egocentric mentality and behaviour. He exhorts: “For whoever will save his life will lose it and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it” (v. 25). Contained in this paradox is the Golden Rule that God has inscribed in human nature created in Christ: the rule that love alone gives meaning and happiness to life. To spend one’s talents, one’s energies and one’s time only to save, protect and fulfil oneself leads in reality to lose oneself, that is, to a sad and sterile existence. If, instead, we live for the Lord and we organize our life on love, as Jesus did, we will be able to savour genuine joy, and our life won’t be sterile, it will be fruitful.
In the celebration of the Eucharist we relive the mystery of the cross; not only do we remember but we carry out the memorial of the redeeming Sacrifice, in which the Son of God loses Himself completely to receive Himself again from the Father and thus find us again, who were lost, together with all creatures. Every time we take part in Holy Mass, the Love of the crucified and risen Christ is communicated to us as food and drink, so that we can follow Him on the way every day, in the concrete service of brothers.
May Mary Most Holy, who followed Jesus to Calvary, accompany us also and help us not to be afraid of the cross, but nailed with Jesus; not a cross without Jesus, but a cross with Jesus, namely, the cross to suffer for love of God and of brothers, because this suffering, by the grace of Christ, is fruitful resurrection.
[Original text: Italian] [Translation by Virginia M. Forrester]
After the Angelus
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
While I renew my spiritual closeness to the populations of Southern Asia, who are still suffering the consequences of the floods, I wish to express my heartfelt participation in the suffering of the inhabitants of Texas, and Louisiana, affected by a hurricane and exceptional rains, which have caused victims, thousands of displaced and enormous material damages. I ask Mary Most Holy, Consoler of the afflicted, to obtain from the Lord the grace of comfort for these harshly tried brothers of ours.
I greet all of you, dear pilgrims from Italy and from various countries. In particular, the pilgrims of the parishes of Sarmede, Anzano and Cappella Maggiore of the diocese of Vittorio Veneto; the faithful of the Canary Islands; the band of Pontevico, the Confirmed of Mariano al Brembo, of Padria and of Prevalle; the youngsters of Chizzola, of Cagliari and of Bellagio. And I want to thank you, who have wished me a good trip. Thank you; thank you!
I wish you all a good Sunday. And, please, don’t forget to pray for me. Have a good lunch and goodbye!
[ZENIT Original text: Italian] [Translation by Virginia M. Forrester]
Twenty-second Sunday in Ordinary Time Lectionary: 124
Reading 1JER 20:7-9
You duped me, O LORD, and I let myself be duped; you were too strong for me, and you triumphed. All the day I am an object of laughter; everyone mocks me.
Whenever I speak, I must cry out, violence and outrage is my message; the word of the LORD has brought me derision and reproach all the day.
I say to myself, I will not mention him, I will speak in his name no more. But then it becomes like fire burning in my heart, imprisoned in my bones; I grow weary holding it in, I cannot endure it.
Responsorial PsalmPS 63:2, 3-4, 5-6, 8-9
R. (2b) My soul is thirsting for you, O Lord my God. O God, you are my God whom I seek; for you my flesh pines and my soul thirsts like the earth, parched, lifeless and without water. R. My soul is thirsting for you, O Lord my God. Thus have I gazed toward you in the sanctuary to see your power and your glory, for your kindness is a greater good than life; my lips shall glorify you. R. My soul is thirsting for you, O Lord my God. Thus will I bless you while I live; lifting up my hands, I will call upon your name. As with the riches of a banquet shall my soul be satisfied, and with exultant lips my mouth shall praise you. R. My soul is thirsting for you, O Lord my God. You are my help, and in the shadow of your wings I shout for joy. My soul clings fast to you; your right hand upholds me. R. My soul is thirsting for you, O Lord my God.
Reading 2ROM 12:1-2
I urge you, brothers and sisters, by the mercies of God, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God, your spiritual worship. Do not conform yourselves to this age but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and pleasing and perfect.
AlleluiaCF. EPH 1:17-18
R. Alleluia, alleluia. May the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ enlighten the eyes of our hearts, that we may know what is the hope that belongs to our call. R. Alleluia, alleluia.
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 Jesus 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 all according to his conduct."