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Twenty-third Sunday in Ordinary Time
In today's Gospel Peter is praised by Jesus, and the next minute it seems, Jesus is calling Peter Satan. Peter is using worldly understanding and does not want Jesus to suffer on the Cross and for us to eventually do the same. It is not that Jesus wants to see us all in pain, but He wants us to understand that redemptive suffering, that is, suffering in an evil world for being good, which therefore helps the Kingdom of God to grow is what He intends.
One thing we must understand is that the Church consists of people, all of whom want to escape suffering as much as possible and as long as possible. I doubt that there are many people who wish to suffer right now, the way the Lord lays out for us. Now, there are many who do suffer, reluctantly, but still want to do the will of God. Looking at this realistically, we all suffer, but for what reason? Because we are evil or because we are good or somewhere in between? We know that God's Kingdom is being established and that it will come to be and that we can either help or hinder its progress. No matter how much we may hinder the Kingdom of God by our sins, it will be established and however much we help through our good works, it will be hastened.
We can know many things about ourselves. We can acknowledge that we have this strength, or that weakness. But what do we really do about it? We know our sinfulness impedes us from spiritual advancement while doing the Will of God can move mountains. But what do we do in the meantime? Sometimes it is hard to get started. Once we get moving we know that we have to keep up with the momentum and keep on carrying the Cross all the way to the end. If we reject the Cross for whatever reason, we know we are wrong and feel guilty. We know that what the world holds for us is emptiness, pain (and ultimately) nothing worth having. And we all do really know in our hearts that Jesus is right. The Psalms say He (God) made us, we belong to him. We are his people, the sheep of his flock. Well, let us do the best we can: We pray and encourage ourselves and each other. We take God at His word and go forth, blindly, as He may have it and, we are asked not to look back. We know that we want to commit to God completely and that it will cost us. Its just that we would like to know what is in store for us, what we will have to go through, to be able to assess if we can stand up to the pressure. Now, The answer is yes. But no details will be given. We need to trust and the Lord will do the rest.
The choice is ours to make.
Written by Fr. Jim Curiel, OCD