Twenty-Second Sunday in Ordinary Time
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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.”
You duped me, O Lord. You duped me, Lord. I thought that if I followed you and your commandments with all my heart, all my soul and all my strength; attended Mass every Sunday and said my prayers every day and night, then I would live a happy life.
You duped me, God. You duped me.
You duped me, O Lord. You duped me. I never imagined in a million years that you would be crucified by us and for us. You duped me. I thought that you would have insisted on being treated like a King, or President or religious leader. Instead, you came into the world just like one of us – actually, worse than one of us – like a peasant, a common man, a no-body, a poor man.
You fooled me God. You fooled all of us.
God forbid, Lord. Can any of us blame Peter? Really. Who would not have responded in the way Peter did to Christ’s insane and dark prediction. Who would not have recoiled to Christ’s ghastly prophecy? Like all of us, Peter suffers from original sin: preconceived notions; that is, we all believe that God should do what we want Him to do and be like we want Him to be. Is there any wonder why Jesus reacted in way He did: “Get behind me, Satan!”
God will not be duped.
A few Saturdays ago I officiated at a wedding. I did what I almost never do: I arrived early to set things up. Some guests of the bride and groom were already in the chapel, mingling with friends and family. As I walked in, I noticed a young girl sharing some pictures with her grandmother. I walked up to them and said hello. Immediately, the young girl’s facial expression changed from one of joy to (I don’t know what to call it) “indifference.” I got the impression she was judging me, and judging me harshly. When her grandmother asked me to give her a blessing, I eagerly agreed. I didn’t know why the request was made, but I was more than happy to do it. Unfortunately, her reaction remained the same: indifferent.
Before I left them, I noticed a picture of two small kids on her cell phone. At first, I didn’t think much about it, but later on an idea came to my head. When she was alone, I asked her who those babies were. Without looking at me, she said “They’re my twins.” Without hesitation, I told her, “Congratulations!” Her head popped up. She was surprised, almost baffled, at what I said. I continued, “It takes a brave woman to have twins. Thank you. You help us all to be braver.”
I duped her, Lord. I duped her! And I was more than happy to dupe her! When she thought she knew me, I duped her. I surprised her. And she allowed herself to be surprised.
Because I’m happy. What will make us happy in this life? When my will corresponds to the Father’s Will. This is what Christ did, and by doing so, He helped us all to be a little braver.
“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?”
Far too many of us only read the Headlines in the Newspapers or on the Internet. Very few of us dig deeper and read the articles. Far too many of us only scrape the surface in our numerous relationships. We must learn to dig deeper, for it is there that we find a wealth of meaning. Peter’s refusal to accept God’s Will was a good example of someone scraping the surface in a relationship. He could only understand Christ’s pain and suffering, not His sacrifice and love.
Let’s not rob the Lord of His glory. Let’s not remove from our lives the profundity of His words and actions, especially His unconditional love for us.
Remove all preconceived notions of God and allow Him to teach the meaning of true love.
And so now we know why we go to Church every Sunday, and pray every day and live by every word that comes forth from the Savior’s mouth? It isn’t to be more relaxed in our lives! It’s to be more like Him: to love as He loves and be as brave as He is.
He makes us all what to be brave, really brave.