22nd Sunday in Ordinary Time Year A

Jer 20, 7-9 / PS 63:2, 3-4, 5-6, 8-9 / Rom 12:1-12 / Mt 16:21-27

     My grandparents deeply believed in the American dream. They believed that if they worked hard they could make a better life for themselves and their family for generations to come. I remember one of my last conversations with my grandmother before she passed away. I was in a car with her, my dad and my brother, and she repeatedly asked us, a symptom of her dementia, what we wanted to be when we grew up and then went on to tell us we could be anything we wanted to be.

     Now my grandmother meant well and my parents did work hard to put us in a position to succeed. By my senior of high school I had worked hard and put myself in a position to attend a great university and do what I wanted with my life. It was just at that moment when I thought I had my life in the place I wanted it to be that I had my Peter moment and realized that while the American dream is alive and well if we take it too far there is a lie beneath it that can lead to destruction.

     For some reason, in His Divine Providence, God decided to use that moment when I thought I had my life planned out to put the thought of priesthood on my heart and like Peter, in today’s Gospel, I said to the Lord “ no that can’t be right, I already have another plan.” As the Lord continued to tug at my heart to be a priest I found myself in a crisis of faith; I laid awake at night asking myself the same question Jesus asked each and every one of us in last Sunday’s Gospel “who do you say that I am?”[1] I wrestled with my belief in Christ and the Catholic faith for a while both in prayer, asking God to give me a greater gift of faith and through study, coming to understand our faith, and by the grace of God I was finally able to say, like St. Peter, with my whole being “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.”[2] No sooner had I made that profession of faith then the blinders fell from my eyes and the message of today’s Gospel that I must take up my cross and follow after Christ[3] became clear.

     Today’s Gospel definitively shows us that Christ knew the plan; He knew that He would freely consent to die the horrific death of the crucifixion for you and I. It was this revelation that helped me see who Christ truly was and made it possible for me to make my profession of faith. Coming to realize that Jesus came to freely die and rise from the dead greatly helped me assent to he faith. You see while there have been many religious leaders and thinkers who have promoted different ways of life and like our Lord died, unlike our Lord their bodies stayed dead. I don’t know about you, but I would rather follow Jesus Christ who died and rose from the dead. If only it was so easy. Certainly following of Christ sounds easy, but we all know it can be hard. It is hard because following Jesus requires just that following. In today’s Gospel Peter tries to be the to take on the role of Christ the teacher by telling Jesus He will not die, but Jesus puts him in his place as the disciple and reminds Peter and all of us that if we want to rise with Christ we must go to the cross with Him. If we want to enter eternal life perhaps it is time for a little Chinese fire drill allowing God to take the driver seat.

     We live in an exciting but dangers country. We live in a country where it seems possible for us to earn the whole world for ourselves, but in so doing we risk loosing eternal life. Last week’s Gospel challenged us to accept the Lord for who He truly is, the God-man who in a pure act of love suffered His horrific death and rose to bring us to eternal life. If we truly believe Jesus to be who He claims to be how can we not follow after Him. This week we are challenged to take the next logical step in the profession we made last week and follow after Him. How will we go forth today, having received the graces of this Mass, and focus on truly following after Him who is the way the truth and the life.[4] Perhaps this week we may need to fall to our knees asking for greater faith, perhaps this week we need to begin to study our faith by perhaps coming to a bible study or other faith formation program. Maybe we need to do some reordering in our lives so we can allow Jesus to lead and allow ourselves to become the disciples. Wherever we may be our Lord invites us this week to come and follow Him to the cross so that we might rise with Him.

[1] Mt16:15

[2] Mt 16:16

[3] Mt 16:25

[4] Jn 14:6

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