Dear Brothers and Sisters,
JESUS BEGAN TO SHOW HIS DISCIPLES THAT HE MUST SUFFER…..
WHOEVER WISHES TO COME AFTER HIM MUST DENY ONESELF (MT 16:21,24).
In this Sunday’s gospel Jesus says that he must suffer, must be killed, and must be raised. Rejection and resurrection are inseparable and provide the ultimate meaning of his identity and mission. Peter, whom Jesus had called “rock” said, “God forbid…! And now Jesus calls him “Satan,” adding, “You are an obstacle to me. You are thinking not as God does…” Then Jesus tells his disciples they must follow that same path if they wish to follow him. The drive to preserve our life is a very strong instinct. Jesus is telling us, we must let go of our life, so we can get something more, a share in his divine, eternal life born from identifying our way of life with that of Christ’s. If we wish to follow him we must take up our cross. It is our only route to the happiness God wants for us. Taking up our cross is healing for our sinful condition. The ending sentence of today’s gospel is heard again in the Last Judgment scene near the end of Matthew’s gospel: “For the Son of Man will come with his angels…” In that final exam we will be repaid…. “I was hungry….” (Mt 25:35).
The following is about someone’s living out Jesus’ words:
One morning Alfred went to the hardware store to buy some pipes that he needed for a small job in his backyard. After tying them up on the roof of his car, he did not have a knife to cut the plastic string, which was very long. D., a skinny man in his early 40s, saw that he had a little problem, came close and cut the string —- using his cigarette lighter! Clever idea, Alfred thought. Then he asked Alfred whether he had any jobs he could do for him. He was about to refuse, also because he looked weird: he had dirty clothes, or better yet to call them rags! And D. had an expression of pain in his face, the smell of alcohol and nicotine. But then Alfred thought, “This guy did not ask for money, but for work: and he is clearly in need of help. He looked very hungry too. Alfred had put aside some money to do the job. He could let him do it and earn something.” So he gave D. a ride to his home. On the way D. explained that he was just out of prison, and he had to pay probation money but had nothing. His wife had also left him, and, to make things worse, he had no car and no phone. He did his job, and Alfred paid him. Before Alfred took him back to the place where he was spending the night, D. asked Alfred whether there was something else he could do. There was always some work to be done in the backyard or in the house, so they agreed that Alfred would pick him up again two days later for the next job. D. was good at his work, and their ”cooperation” continued for some time. He came a total of 9 or 10 times to his house, and every time their trust and respect for each other grew stronger. Then after about a month, he disappeared. Alfred was afraid that he had gone back to jail, until he called Alfred one day after another month. He told him: “I am very grateful for all you have done! Thanks to your trust and the jobs you paid me for, I was able to pay the probation and to buy a new phone. Then, with the phone, I got some other jobs. And now I have a permanent job. Things have changed, and I am very happy! I just wanted to say thank you!”
God Bless You,