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.”
Praised be Jesus Christ!
The First Reading from the Prophet Jeremiah gives us the words to describe our experience as a disciple of Christ. Jeremiah is crying out to God. He is lamenting to God for the scorn and laughter for which he is the object. The people of Israel were angry with him for rebuking them for not following the Law. The Israelites wanted to continue in their life of sin and comfort without disturbance from Jeremiah.
The world in which we currently live has much in common with the times of Jeremiah. We tend to be comfortable with a life of sin and comfort and resent any distrurbance of it. But, as Pope Benedict XVI reminds us, “we are not made for comfort, we are made for greatness.” Just like Jeremiah, we too are called to witness to this life of greatness obtained through discomfort.
In today’s Gospel, Peter is proposing a life of greatness without the discomfort of the Cross. Jesus rebukes him because such a life is not possible. It is by the cross that we truly attain the greatness Pope Benedict describes. It is the struggle and triumph of the Cross that brings us to true greatness.
Today, let the words of the Prophet Jeremiah be our words as well. May the stirring of the Holy Spirit inspire us to preach the victory of the Cross to our post-Christian world, so that all can attain the greatness to which we are called. As always, know of my prayers before Jesus in the Most Blessed Sacrament.