Homily for the twenty-second Sunday in the year

Year A  -  Mt. 16:21-27

 
 

"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 scandal 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."

In this Sunday's gospel, Jesus speaks to his disciples of his Passion:  he wants to prepare them to endure this difficult trial.  But, let us be sure to note that if Jesus speaks of his Passion, he never does so without also mentioning the day of his resurrection from among the dead!  For the Passion and the Resurrection are inseparable!  Death, indeed, is not an end:  it is but a passage, a transition from this world to the other, to that eternity which is of God and which he calls us to share for our happiness and personal felicity!  We who are Christians, we who have been baptized in the death of Christ, we are already dead and resurrected with Christ, at least in hope, as Saint Paul says:  "For in this hope we were saved." (Rm. 8:24)  If therefore Jesus prepares his disciples - and we are among their number - for his Passion, we must not lose sight of the fact that the Resurrection is the final end of this trial.  Each day of our life, especially if we endure suffering of some kind, let us keep in mind that the final Resurrection is near, as Jesus said at the end of his discourse: "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."

"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 scandal to me; for you are not on the side of God, but of men.»"

What a paradox!  What a scandal, as Jesus said!  Peter had just been declared the foundation of the Church of Christ, and we see here that he did not want Jesus to accomplish his mission as Redeemer of the human race!  But is this so surprising?  Don't we sometimes act in a manner that is similar, and possibly even worse?   Peter, we ourselves, all the men and women of the world - we have all sinned, we all have upon us the mark of original sin which weakens us and which can lead us to worse sins! If Peter scandalizes us, as he scandalized Jesus, let us instead fear that we ourselves might be an even greater scandal to our brothers and sisters in Christ!

"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?»"

Again a paradox!  "Whoever would save his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it."  Everything is paradoxical in the life of Jesus!  Everything is paradoxical in the life of a Christian!  There is nothing logical in the life of a disciple of Christ!  For he leads a double life:  he has one life on earth, and one in Heaven.  Now, logic only takes into account the earthly life, and not the heavenly one, since the latter is beyond its competence.  The life of Heaven ceaselessly perturbs earthly logic, that which men vainly try to impose upon the entire universe. But the finger of God is there, and it writes the text of history as the Will of God has sovereignly decided, not otherwise. Let us remember Babel:  men wanted to reach heaven by building a tower, but God confounded their project by multiplying their one language into many (cf.  Gn. 11:6-7)!

"«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.»"

All of our hope resides in this!  "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."  Our life is so short compared to the promised eternity!  We have so little time to accomplish the works upon which we shall be judged!  Even if, in this life, we suffer this or that, let us keep in mind that it is nothing in comparison to the immense gifts and endless happiness which the Lord has promised us in his eternal Love:  "I consider," says Saint Paul, "that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us." (Rm. 8:18)  But the same Saint Paul adds:  "Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness... And he who searches the hearts of men knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God." (Rm. 8:26-27)  So have confidence!  The Spirit of God is always at work to guide us on the way to Heaven!