24th Sunday in Ordinary Time (Fr. Vinner)
CHRIST PROVED HIS LOVE FOR US THROUGH FAITH AND ACTION
My brothers and sisters in Christ,
On this twenty fourth Sunday, we honor Christ the son of God who humbly accepted the will of God by generously accepting to carry his cross. Our first reading for this week from Isaiah is one of the “Suffering Servant Songs.” It is the prophecies about Jesus Christ the messiah. He was not rebellious but, on the contrary, was willing to do the Father‘s will by proclaiming and securing salvation for humanity. Christ proved his love for us and, faith in his father by willingly accepting suffering and death. Today’s Gospel explains the basis of our Faith as acceptance of Jesus as the Christ, the Son of the Living God and our Lord and Savior. It also tells us that Christ Jesus became our Savior by his suffering, death and Resurrection. Finally, it outlines the three conditions of Christian discipleship, namely, denying oneself, taking up one’s cross and following Jesus
Our second reading is a challenge to each one of us to be practical Christians as Christ was. It presents us with the reality of what it actually means to be a true Christian. James reminds us that: “Faith without good work is dead or useless.” While reflecting over today’s message I recalled these words of Jennifer López while appealing for charity on behalf of sick children. She says: “Miracles do not come easily…behind every miracle there is a generous and charitable heart.” This generous and charitable heart is a heart of practical faith in action. So, God needs our prayer, faith as well as our practical actions in order to achieve the next miracle for others. Christ proved his love for us by being practical. He prayed and also offered his life for us on the cross. This is practical Christianity that speaks volumes.
In our gospel today Jesus was confirming the prophecy of Isaiah before Peter interrupted him. Jesus knew that this was the will of God for him and was willing to show his practical love for humanity. So, as the Suffering Servant and Messiah, his core mission was to redeem humanity through his own suffering and death. However, Peter did not understand this. Peter’s case today is a typical example of how a godly and spiritual person could be manipulated in order to stand against the will of God. Jesus does not mean that Peter was a devil, but he rebuked the voice that spoke through him.
A few moments before, Peter identified Christ as the son of God by the power of the Holy Spirit. The next moment he was used by Satan in order to oppose God’s will. There are two reasons for this. First, Peter could not believe that Jesus could descend so low as to allow himself be killed by human beings. Second, Peter set his mind on what he will lose should this happen. He thought he will lose his position in the earthly kingdom which they thought Christ had come to establish. So he did not want to hear Christ talk about suffering and death now. However, he did not know he was standing against the will of God.
Like most of us today, Peter knew who Jesus was but was not ready to accept the reality that faced him. He wanted the crown but denies the cross that must come before it. Like Peter, most times we do not want to face the realities of our life. Rather, we want to deny them. We only want to hear that there will be no problems or difficulties in life. We want to reduce or run away from our cross and yet, we want to follow Christ.
Jesus wants to become a living, present reality for us, loving us, forgiving us, helping us, transforming our lives and outlook and building a personal relationship with us. The knowledge
of Jesus as Lord and personal Savior needs to become a living, personal experience for each Christian drawing each of us to loving response. The relationship deepens and grows as we listen to Jesus through the daily, meditative reading of the Bible, speak to him in our daily, personal and family prayers, offer him our lives on the altar in the Holy Mass and see reconciliation with him, asking his forgiveness for our sins every night and in the Sacrament of Reconciliation. In the Eucharistic celebration today, we are celebrating and experiencing in our lives the death and Resurrection of Christ, the Messiah, our Lord and personal Savior. 2) We need to surrender our life to Jesus whom we experience as our Lord and Savior: The next step is the surrender of our lives to Jesus whose love we have experienced by rendering humble and loving service to others with the strong conviction that Jesus is present in every person. The final step is to praise and thank God in all the events of our lives, good and bad, realizing that God’s love shapes every event of our lives.
My dear friends practical Christianity means faith in action. It means accepting to carry our cross humbly and patiently while relying on the same grace that helped Christ. It is by carrying his cross and, dying on it that Christ demonstrated his practical love, charity, generosity and faith in action for us. So, he wants us to do the same. This is why he tells us today: “If anyone wants to be my follower…let him carry his cross and follow me…Anyone who wants to save his life will lose it; but anyone who loses his life for the sake of the gospel will save it.” The good news is our crosses will not last forever, but will definitely end up in triumph.
May God Bless us.
FR. S.Vinner HGN