GOD’S WORD FOR THE DAY – 3RD SEPTEMBER 2017
GOD’S WORD FOR THE DAY (based on Catholic Liturgical Readings)
DATE: 3RD SEPTEMBER 2017
TWENTY-SECOND SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME
FIRST READING: Jeremiah 20:7-9
PSALM: Psalm 63:2-6, 8-9
SECOND READING: Romans 12:1-2
GOSPEL: Matthew 16:21-27
THEME: THE DISCIPLE AND THE CROSS
The greatest tragedy of discipleship is to discover at the end of one’s earthly life that the brand of Christ one followed never existed.
Peter had a perception of the messiah that needed to be refined. He had an idea of a saviour who was alien to suffering and had no cross to carry. Jesus refuted that notion of Peter and then proceeded to give an elaborate teaching on discipleship. He said to his disciples: “If any man would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me” (Mt. 16:24). Jesus thus connects discipleship with the cross and makes the two inseparable. In other words, a true disciple pursues the way of the cross. It is a path that the master himself trod.
Jeremiah, who is often referred to as the weeping prophet, had his share of suffering. He appeared on the scene during the final days of the Kingdom of Judah, prior to the Babylonian exile. The prophet was sent to a nation that had turned her back to the Lord in many ways and were taking decisions that were inimical to their very existence and wellbeing. He was sent to bring them the truth that would set them free but sadly, they paid him back with insult, public disgrace and imprisonment. There was a cross associated with his call. He cries out in our First Reading: “You have seduced me, Lord, and I have let myself be seduced; you have overpowered me: you were the stronger. I am a laughing-stock all day long, they all make fun of me” (Jer. 20:7).
The call of God is not an invitation to a funfair; rather, it is a divine request to give oneself totally for the cause of salvation. In doing so, one comes face to face with trials; herein lies the cross. Unfortunately, the standards of this world – a world characterised by consumerism and hedonism – have jeorpadised the faith of many ‘Christians’. There are many people who genuinely set out to follow Jesus but are swayed and sometimes foxed to seek preservation rather than renunciation. They are made to believe that as a children of God, suffering ought not to be part of our vocabulary. Little by little, in pursuit of comfort, many would-be disciples of Christ throw away the very cross that would lead them to lasting comfort. They pick and choose portions of Sacred Scripture that speak of prosperity and avoid those elements that speak of trials.
There are billions who profess faith in Jesus Christ but the question each one of us should ask him/herself is: Am I following the real Jesus or a representation of a Jesus who never lived? The real Jesus does not promise a smooth ride; he makes it clear that there is a cross to bear.
In our quest to follow Christ, we each have to make a choice between a Christ with a cross and a Christ without a cross. The former leads to salvation, whiles the latter leads to eternal frustration.
Andrews Obeng, svd
DIVINE WORD MISSIONARIES
BIBLICAL PASTORAL MINISTRY
“May the darkness of sin and the night of unbelief vanish before the light of the Word and the Spirit of grace. And may the heart of Jesus live in the hearts of all people” (St. Arnold Janssen).