Homily for the twenty-second Sunday of the year - Year A - Mt. 16:21-27


by

Father Daniel Meynen
 
 

"From that time Jesus began to show his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised. And Peter took him and began to rebuke him, saying, 'God forbid, Lord! This shall never happen to you.' But he turned and said to Peter, 'Get behind me, Satan! You are a hindrance to me; for you are not on the side of God, but of men.'


"Then Jesus told his disciples, 'If any man would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. For what will it profit a man, if he gains the whole world and forfeits his life? Or what shall a man give in return for his life? For the Son of man is to come with his angels in the glory of his Father, and then he will repay every man for what he has done.' "





Homily:


"From that time Jesus began to show his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised."


Just after having established Simon as the Rock of his Church, Jesus wants to announce to his disciples that their Master, who is the Messiah of God and the Savior of men, would soon undergo the worst outrages committed by the priests and the scribes, before resurrecting for an eternal Glory. This announcement is necessary, for the Church is indissociable from the Passion and the Resurrection of Christ...


Indeed, the Church was born on the Cross of Calvary; in a way, she came out of the Heart of Christ, along with the blood and water that Saint John the Apostle saw flowing from the pierced side of the Lord... The Church is the Body of Christ, the assembly of the men and women who have determinedly decided to follow in the footsteps of the Savior of men, suffering and dying with Him, in order that they might also resurrect with him, for an eternal Glory...


"And Peter took him and began to rebuke him, saying, 'God forbid, Lord! This shall never happen to you.' But he turned and said to Peter, 'Get behind me, Satan! You are a hindrance to me; for you are not on the side of God, but of men.' "


One day, John said to Jesus: " 'Teacher, we saw a man casting out demons in your name, and we forbade him, because he was not following us.' But Jesus said, 'Do not forbid him; for no one who does a mighty work in my name will be able soon after to speak evil of me.' " (Mk. 9:38-39) Would not the principle expressed by Jesus be applicable here to Peter?


Peter had just accomplished something greater than a miracle: he had just served as the free and conscious instrument of the action of the Spirit of the Father who reveals to the world his Son Jesus! Peter had just said: "You are the Christ, the Son of the living God!" (Mt. 16:16) And right after this, he was a scandal to Jesus, a stumbling block? If what Jesus said was true, and of course it was, we must try to find out how this should be understood...


Saint Mark, who recounts the event, says: "Peter took him, and began to rebuke him. But turning and seeing his disciples, he rebuked Peter..." (Mk. 8:32-33) This leads us to think, as some have already suggested, that Jesus addresses Peter as the spokesman of all the disciples: "But turning and seeing his disciples..." So it was not just Peter who was being addressed, but every disciple, no matter who he is.


Alas, every disciple of Jesus can become an occasion of scandal, a stumbling block for all men... Since we are dealing here with the apostles, we must fear and dread that scandal might come from those today who are the ministers of the Church... Alas... Thrice alas... May the Lord have pity on us! May the Lord, through Mary, watch over his Church, in order that Peter might never be the spokesman for the ideas of the world, but rather the herald of the Word of God!


"Then Jesus told his disciples, 'If any man would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. For what will it profit a man, if he gains the whole world and forfeits his life? Or what shall a man give in return for his life?' "


Saint Paul wrote to the Galatians: "But far be it from me to glory except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world." (Gal. 6:14) The Cross is the pride and glory of the Apostle, for it is the Cross that takes him to Resurrection and to the endless Bliss of Heaven! At this point, one should reread all of chapter twelve of Book Two of the Imitation of Christ; I will cite but a short extract, which applies to me as much as it does to you:


"If you willingly bear your cross, it will bear you and will lead you unfailingly to that most desired end where on suffers no more; but it will not be on this earth. If you bear your cross with regret, it will become for you a heavy burden, and you will double your sorrows without being able to deliver yourself from them. If you reject a cross, you will unfailingly find another one that is even more painful... May God find you worthy to suffer something for his name! What glory for you! What joy for all the saints! What an example for your brothers! Everyone recommends patience to others; but there are few who willingly endure suffering. You should indeed endure with joy the mild pains that you have to suffer for Jesus Christ, since so many others suffer much more for this world."


" 'For the Son of man is to come with his angels in the glory of his Father, and then he will repay every man for what he has done.' "


Jesus speaks of his Return in Glory, for then the long way of the Cross of humanity will come to an end with the glorious manifestation of the risen Jesus! Then, all those who had borne their cross during their life will see in Heaven the Sign of the Son of Man coming upon the clouds: "Then will appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven." (Mt. 24:30) Then, all those who will have been marked on their "forehead" (Rev. 7:3; 14:1) with the sign of the cross will receive their reward and eternal glory!


May the Most Blessed Virgin Mary, who underwent the sacrifice of the Cross in a sublime and unequaled manner, help us with her maternal love and lead us to Heaven, in Jesus, before the Father!




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