Mark 6:17-29 Beheading of John the Baptist
August 27, 2020
Luke 4: 16-30
August 30, 2020

Matthew 16:21-27

22nd Sunday in Ordinary Time
Jeremiah 20:7-9
Romans 12:1-2
Matthew 16:21-27

A. Text/Context

  • Jesus is now telling his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer, be killed, and be raised on the third day and he censured Peter in the gospel
  • Get behind me Satan. You are an obstacle to me. You are thinking not as God does, but as human beings do. If Jesus follows the suggestions of Peter he will never die on the cross and there will be no fulfillment in his mission
  • And then He enumerated the requirements of discipleship: Whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself, take up his cross and follow me

B. Human Situation

  • The gospel today talks of discipleship or the faithful following of Jesus in general and the specific following of Jesus in whatever state of life we are in
  • And Jesus also said: Whoever wishes to save his life will lose. What does it mean?
  • A life that is lived in self- centeredness, in selfishness and in denial of Jesus, such life ends in destruction. A life that centers on the self that does not care for the needs of others will end up in ruins
  • And Jesus also said: But whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. What does it mean? Life that is lived in loyalty to Christ, despite an earthly death arrives at the fullness of life
  • A life lived in caring for others will end up to a life eternal. This sounds highly theological
  • But discipleship or following Jesus in its very simple expression is simply your faithfulness to your wife as a husband, your fidelity to your husband as a wife
  • And doing the holy tasks demanded of you as a family, as parents to your own children. Marriage then is also discipleship as you raised your boys and girls to become good Christians as they grow
  • Discipleship is also expressed in the obligations that you have to fulfill as a single man or woman
  • Helping your sick and aged parents and that is very clear in the commandments that we honor them as father and mother
  • You may also assist your brothers or sisters on their tuition fees in school, that is also discipleship although it is not your moral obligation but you do it for the sake of charity
  • Or if you opted to remain single in your entire life. Single blessedness is also discipleship
  • Single men and women enjoy more freedom to exercise discipleship and service because they are free from the burdens of home and family
  • Quite a number of saints in our church never get married because they opted to live a life of sanctity and holiness
  • Discipleship is also a life of consecration with the Lord, through Holy Orders following the rules and constitutions of a sacred order or congregation
  • These are the people who opted to become priests, sisters, brothers and the religious who prostrate themselves before the altar of God and made their vows on the three evangelical counsels: poverty, chastity, and obedience
  • And most of all, discipleship is the expression of the daily and ordinary routine of duties that we do as a form of service
  • As professionals, we do the job assigned to us in our work, according to the positions that we are in
  • We do the job and we are paid and we are happy with that but it is not yet discipleship. Service has to be included in the job
  • And if we are already remunerated with our work, and yet we have not expended a certain degree of sacrifice in the performance of the job there is no service in it because discipleship is congruent to service and real service entails a certain degree of sacrifice
  • If it is just simply work and we are already rewarded from that, there is nothing more that we spiritually gain in the end
  • So in the end, discipleship or following Jesus spares no one as exemption
  • Everybody is called to live a life of faithfulness or fidelity, married or single, priests or religious, man or woman, young or old
  • Everybody is called to become a faithful and sincere disciple of Jesus wherever we are, whatever we do
  • Back in the middle of the 60’s the whole nation followed every detail of the sensational rape case of the actress Maggie de la Riva
  • For a long period of time, the harrowing experience of the violation of her womanhood sent her to a terrible nightmare of her dark past
  • When she recovered, she became a counselor for abused women. She becomes a wounded healer
  • When I was in high school we were visited by a young man blinded by accident because of drug addiction
  • Despite his blindness, he travels all over the country lecturing to the young boys and girls the horrors and dangers of drug addiction. The young man becomes a wounded healer
  • Lauro Vizconde and Mrs. Chiong are all parents of children who are victims of heinous crimes and they become crusaders against violence; healed of their wounds they become very compassionate and understanding and they now become the wounded healers
  • The medical professionals who lost their lives caring for those infected with the covid virus today are the modern disciples who also shed their lives doing the duties of health care. But many of them commit themselves to the medical profession so faithfully, that they do or die for it
  • This is now the time that the cross becomes easy to carry, the time when sacrifices turn into joy. The time when we will be happy carrying the cross on our shoulders as a form of service. With the pain of acceptance, recovery follows, and you will be happy in the end because you are no longer haunted by a dark past

C. Challenge

  • What is now the challenge that we have to as Christians as disciples of Jesus? And what is it that a true disciple of Jesus carries in following him?
  • It is the cross. A true disciple will always carry a cross. Somehow in the exercise of our work, and profession even if we love our work so much you will always carry a cross
  • Nobody wants to carry a cross because it’s heavy, but the cross is not always heavy to carry if the wounded part of our self is already healed
  • The challenge of discipleship is for everyone of us to carry our own cross. The cross that we carry no matter how heavy, God will also help us carry it
  • The first reading in Jeremiah. What is it? He doesn’t like his assignment as a prophet but the word of God burns in his heart so he continues even if it is a heavy cross for him
  • In the second reading in Romans, Paul exhorted the Christians to offer a perfect sacrifice to the father
  • The gospel is challenging us the same thing. Discipleship without the cross is useless
  • We must always remember that pain, suffering, sacrifices are also redemptive by nature, because Jesus himself suffered and died and redemption became possible
  • And lest we forget, the cross that we carry will not always remain heavy because sacrifices will also turn into joy
  • Just like a mother who cares for her own child, inspite of all the difficulties of motherhood, the sacrifices, the cross she carries has never been heavy to bear because a real mother always loves her own child, no matter what
  • The sacrifice now turns into joy and the cross is no longer heavy to carry

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