Twenty-second Sunday in Ordinary Time
August 31, 2014 Cycle A
by Rev. Jose Maria Cortes, F.S.C.B.

Home Page  
Sunday Reading Reflections Index

In the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.  Amen.

In last Sunday’s Gospel, Jesus exalted Peter for his response when asked: “Who do you say that I am?” In today’s Gospel, the opposite happens. Jesus humiliates Peter tremendously in front of the other Apostles for attempting to dissuade him from the Cross, calling him the worst name in the world: Satan.

In the second reading, Saint Paul says: “Do not be conformed to this world but be transformed by the renewal of your mind.”

Peter’s initial reaction when Jesus talks about the Cross is conformed to this world. The logic of the world is against the Cross. The world does not understand the Cross. The logic of the Cross is the logic of love. Jesus absolutely contradicts the selfishness of the mundane vision of things. The exaltation of the individual at all costs is contrary to the Christian conception of life.

Saint Paul alerts us to the need for us to transform our mentality. We constantly need to convert from a worldly mentality to a Christian one.

We are like Peter. Many times, we feel that what this world gives us is more attractive than what Christ has to offer. This is what happens when we reject the Church’s doctrine about important matters in our lives and make our own interpretations. We are mundane when we think about ourselves as the center of everything. For a Christian, the center of reality is Jesus’ Cross. Love and self-giving are at the center of all things, not pride and selfishness.

The greatness of Peter is that he accepted this tremendous correction and humiliation without taking offense. Are we willing to accept the same kind of humiliation? Are we open to accept corrections from God? For example, how does our way of life compare with what the Church teaches us? Do we live our faith in a worldly way, as if it were a supermarket where we can pick only what appeals to us?

We need to be aware that if we truly live our faith, we will sooner or later feel its contradiction with the world. If we do not feel this contradiction, something is not working. The disciples of Jesus follow him entirely, facing the opposition of the world with him. The greatest examples are the martyrs. Nowadays, they surround us, although the media try to ignore them. Are we aware that 150 thousand Christians are killed each year all over the world?

In the Western world, they are not killing the body yet, but they do kill the soul! The worst thing is that we do not even realize what is happening.  They do not kill us but they ignore us or tag us as sectarian.

The grace of our encounter with Christ through the Church makes us different.  It brings us gladness. This gladness is unknown to the world.

Not being conformed to this world means to discover the beauty of the Cross. The power of the attraction of the Cross is infinitely greater than what this world considers attractive. There is a mysterious beauty hidden in the Cross that we are called to find.

“We celebrated the memorial of Saint Augustine last week. Like Peter, he is a great example of conversion from a worldly way of living to a Christian one. In The Confessions, his autobiography, he says: “Late I have loved you, O Beauty ever ancient, ever new, late have I loved you! […] Created things kept me from you.” [This is what to be mundane means, s when created things keeps us from God.] “I have tasted you, now I hunger and thirst for more. You touched me, and I burned for your peace.”

Saint Augustine had a similar same experience of the prophet Jeremiah that we heard in the first reading: “You have seduced me, O Lord, and I let my self to be seduced.”

Let us also be seduced by the beauty of the Cross, because as Jesus says in the Gospel: “Whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.” Let us find the life, let us find the beauty and let us experience the gladness of following Christ.

In the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.  Amen.

Home Page  
Sunday Reading Reflections Index