Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Catholic Reflections 623 : Homily Twenty-second Sunday of the Year A - Sunday, September 3, 2017

Homily Twenty-second Sunday of the Year A - Sunday, September 3, 2017


First Reading: Jeremiah 20:7-9
Psalm: Ps 62:2-6. 8-9. “My soul is thirsting for you, O Lord my God.”
Second Reading: Romans 12:1-2
Gospel: Matthew 16:21-27
Please listen to my audio recordings of the readings, prayers and reflections for the Twenty-second Sunday of the Year A - Sunday, September 3, 2017, by clicking this link here: https://soundcloud.com/user-633212303/faith-hope-and-love-22nd-ordinary-a (Edition: 46 )
[“’gospel’ values included in the readings: the way of God’s Kingdom is the way of the Cross. Allow one’s mind to be transformed by God’s ways, and not human ways” “Do not model yourselves on the behaviour of the world around you” / “Get behind me…… The way you think is human ways, not God’s way!” ]

Our Prayers and thoughts are with the people of Texas, USA, and with the people of India, Bangladesh and Nepal, suffering from terrible disasters.  May the Lord's goodness be witnessed in the care and practical help of people of goodwill everywhere. and for those suffering terrible horrors in Myanmar.  May the Lord grant peace and dignity to all people.  

“Do not model yourselves on the behaviour of the world around you” Romans 12:1-2

“Get behind me…… The way you think is human ways, not God’s way!” Matthew 16:21-27

St Peter has just declared that Jesus is the Messiah, the chosen one, and the Son of God. Jesus has rewarded this God-inspired declaration with the statement that Peter is the ROCK…on which he will build his church.

Our Lord’s church is founded on the “rock-solid profession of faith” first uttered by Saint Peter.

But now, (astoundingly), only moments later, Jesus is rebuking Peter. Calling him a stumbling block.

Peter has gone from “Rock” to “Stumbling block” in seconds…
How easy it is for any of us to go from one-minute being a person who is supporting the vision Of Jesus, to being an unwitting stumbling block, or obstacle to the project!! It is very sobering stuff!!

Our Lord’s instinctive reaction, even to one of his closest disciples makes sense though. He had been sorely tempted in the desert by the “adversary”…The temptations wer persistent but he deflected them powerfully….. Then, time and time again.. he had to shrug off the “all too subtle temptations” to “sell-out” or “take the easy path”…..

If the easy path was not so attractive…. And if the hard path was not so shocking and awful… there would have been no problem,…. but the right way was something no one would be happy to follow unless it was necessary…. and the easy path is so reassuring….. Jesus has time and time again fended off the adversary’s temptations…. “give them bread… give them material things they desire and then they will follow you…..’…. “give them sensations… give them wonders…. and they will follow you….”……. “never challenge them…. given them what they ask without questioning… without moving them forward…… and they will follow you…..”……. “compromise with the world…. reduce your standards……. sell out…. and they will follow you….”…. and now….here is his friend… his devoted disciple…… his rock……. Peter….. saying similar things….. no wonder Jesus shot back that retort like an arrow shot from its bow…….. Jesus has been fending off these obstacles to his true mission time and time again throughout his ministry… and this would not be the last time each-other…

Jesus is saying to Peter.. and to each one of us…. okay… you know I am the Messiah… the Christ… the chosen one…. fine… that is only the beginning…. NOW you must listen and learn from me WHAT the true meaning of the messiah is……

Peter and the disciples would have grown up with a very different image of the meaning of a “messiah” or the “Christ”…. To them.. It was a king… a warrior… in the mould of King David… who would come with revolution and power and cast down the regimes in control, and rule the chosen people in a Kingdom better than the days of Solomon……. God’s kingdom on earth…. and earthly kingdom…. too…. Jesus had to teach them to let go of all that….. he is the messiah but a messiah like nothing they had expected…. (even though this gentle, peaceful King, this suffering servant is actually to be found in the ancient scriptures, but the expectation of an overwhelming warrior-king had long ago drowned-out this gentler message). Jesus’ Kingdom is not of this world…… his power is the cross…. his sword is his word and his weapon is love….. and persuasion… inclusion, forgiveness and justice……

It is interesting though… Jesus does not speak to Peter the same way he dismissed Satan in the desert… But, there is a big difference here…… In the desert Jesus says to The Adversary… “begone”…. “depart”…….. (The Adversary, will never follow God… his pride is too overwhelming)./….. but to Peter.. he says… begone adversary… get behind me ….. its two separate ideas…... Two different things…… to the adversary he says … begone from me…. but to his trustworthy, loyal Peter… he says….. get back behind me… FOLLOW me… learn from me… Don’t try to lead me…. Don’t tell me how to do this…. Become my follower again…. learn the ways of the Messiah from the Messiah and not from your own pre-conceptions. . And of course Peter does…. He had gotten out of his place and tried to drag Jesus into false visions of his mission… but Jesus would have none of that….… Peter was a quick learner. After this rebuke, he gets back to following Jesus…. Walking behind him, not in front of him, (not as an adversary or an obstacle)….

This is very important for all of us.

So often, we might do something for a good motive, but sometimes that motive may be misguided. St Peter MEANT WELL too. He pulled Jesus Aside and said to him out of the sincerest concern and affection for his master…. NO WAY!!!…. His Lord and Master, the Messiah, simply cannot be permitted to go off and be executed in Jerusalem. This MUST NOT HAPPEN. Peter loved and respected his master and wanted to protect him and preserve his life. He was trying to be a good friend, but he unwittingly was becoming an obstacle to Jesus because Peter did not understand that Jesus’ whole mission was to sacrifice his life for the salvation of all. It was necessary that Our Lord MUST go to Jerusalem and be handed over and sacrificed.

If anything actually MUST NOT HAPPEN, it is that NO ONE MUST be allowed try to stop our Lord or become an obstacle to his road to Calvary, , (not even Peter or any of his disciples), Anyone who promotes an easy way out or watering down of the Gospel message, will be nothing but a stumbling block to be gotten around.

I find it very helpful to always keep in mind that good intentions are not the be all and end all. Sometimes meaning well can end up defeating the purpose of what we are here for.

Any ‘overly helpful’ disciple can fall into St Peter’s trap of thinking they are helping, when they are not really listening and learning God’s ways, which are not like the ways of the world. …. We have a task from our Lord to try and comprehend his mission as fully as we can. The “overly helpful” end up doing the exact opposite of what God is actually trying to achieve. Despite meaning well, it is nevertheless misguided….

To prevent this mistake, it is urgent that we take regular time to read the scriptures and deepen our spiritual and scriptural reading…. And also, these readings we hear each weekend.. are so rich and full of meaning.. It would be wonderful if we read over the coming weekend’s readings, at least once or twice during the preceding week,… and perhaps just prior to coming to mass.. even read the texts reflectively again…. Prior to hearing it proclaimed at Mass… to ever deepen our hearing and perceiving of the wonderful message and challenge of God’s Word.

Jesus puts the icing on the cake at the end of this Gospel….…. “anyone who wants to follow me must ‘deny themselves’ ….. Jesus knows that human pride…. human ego is an enormous obstacle to his mission…… Jesus wants to teach and guide all his followers into a mindset that leaves behind ego, pride and self-interest…. If we are to be always true to Jesus message… then we must accept a heavy but liberating truth…. This is not about ME…. this is not about MY needs…. this is about the good news… this is about what is best for others and for all……… My comfort… my needs….. my pride…. ,me… me…. me….. it all must be left behind……. So that we can follow where Jesus leads us….and respond generously and compassionately to what happens.

Today’s gospel demands of us deep and regular prayer, contemplation and reflection, so that we can be a rock, and not a block… and so that we can not only “mean well” but also “achieve well” when we act according to the Lord’s vision.


THE DAILY STUDY BIBLE. GOSPEL OF MATTHEW. (REVISED EDITION). BY WILLIAM BARCLAY. Concepts from William Barclay, The Daily Study Bible – Matthew vol 2).

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Twenty-second Sunday of the Year A

Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
Brothers and sisters, let us acknowledge our sins,
and so prepare ourselves to celebrate the sacred mysteries.
Lord Jesus, you raise us to new life: Lord, have mercy// //Lord Jesus, you forgive us our sins:Christ, have mercy//Lord Jesus, you feed us with your body and blood:Lord, have mercy//
Memorial Acclamation

Save us, Saviour of the world, for by your Cross and Resurrection you have set us free.


Sundays Ordinary III p.30

Euch prayer two p.56

Communion side. Fr PWK:   RH
Go and announce the Gospel of the Lord.

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