Twenty-Second Sunday of the Year A: Reflections- Fr. Michael. Udoekpo
What does God Wants of His Disciples?
Although God deals with us in mysterious ways, today’s bible readings point us, at least to the directions of his divine expectations of us. God wants us to deepen our relationship with Him, discerning His will, by living a holy life that conforms to the Gospel. He wants us at all time and of every age and circumstance to recognize the prophetic role of sufferings, mortification, and self-denial not always self-consuming. He wants us to appreciate the costly price of being a Christian, the value of the Cross in the face of contemporary challenges .
St. Paul in the Second Reading, (Rom 12:1-2) reminds his contemporary Christian community of Rome of God’s expectations: right and ethical conducts, spiritual worship of God in faith and truth, non-conformity to God's will, worldliness and secularism, "anything goes," that has come to plague every culture including our own today.
Even in the time of Jeremiah, when
Jeremiah paid a high price of being abuse, thrown into prison, with toutures and terrorism (vv3, 10) and even death- as reflected in his laments “you duped me, O Lord, and I let myself be duped… I was an object of laughter, everyone mocks me.” His prophetic sufferings did not deter his confident trust and faith in God- who “delivers the life of the needy from the hands of the evildoers (vv 10-13).”
Similarly, Peter since last Sunday has been wrestling with the will of God. He professed Christ as the “Son of the Living God,” (Matt 16:16). He was entrusted with the keys of the Kingdom (Matt 16:18ff). But one more thing in today’s Gospel (Matt 16:21-27) is that Peter must realize the suffering the sacrifices the prices that come with being the bearer of the keys Kingdom of God, a disciple of Christ- denying ourselves, doing his will not our own will!
In the face of modern culture with modern strife for material things, money, power, abuse of sex, inordinate search for worldly honors, position, comfort, “freedom,” dominance, self-interest, short- cuts to desire goals, insufficient religious dialogue, rush to wars and judgments, each of us must be struggling with the challenges that had faced Jeremiah, Peter and Paul, and of course Our Lord Jesus, Mary and coutless Saints, heroes of faith in the face of persecutions and mockeries.
And may we always be willing in our own mockery circumstances of dupes, in illness and pains, in rejection and persecution, in loneliness and misunderstanding, in marriages and celibacies, in long days in class rooms and offices, farms, and factories, Seminaries and Colleges to take up our daily crosses and follow Jesus!