Saint Thomas of Canterbury, Bolton

Stay with us, Lord, on our journey

Cycle A

Twenty Second Sunday in Ordinary Time

Cross of life.jpg

 

Matthew 16: 21-27

"If anyone wants to be a follower of mine …"

The teaching of Jesus had been welcomed by the multitude. His miracles and parables were the talk of the countryside. After the feeding of 5000 they were eager to crown him King. But to the religious leaders of his time and to foreign the powers that governed the country he was a subversive, a threat to their previously unquestioned authority and power. In today's Gospel, Jesus reveals that the culture he lives in will reject him and his message and even take his life. His love and service for the poor, his acceptance of people generally regarded as untouchables, and his teaching on justice and peace will lead eventually to his suffering and death.

So it will be, he says, with his faithful followers. The way of the cross which Jesus predicts for himself is the same way that must be embraced by his followers. He speaks of his disciples having to “renounce yourself”, “lose your life for my sake”, “carry your cross”. It all sounds rather negative and, like Peter, we want to protest “this must not happen”. Surely the Christ, the Son of God, has come to bring us salvation not suffering!

The call to carry the cross is a call to love, not to suffering. We are called to come out of our selfishness and to live selflessly for God and for others. As disciples of Jesus we are challenged to follow his teaching and example even though this will at times involve renunciation of self-interest. It means letting God's love shine through as we choose our way through the ups and downs of everyday life. The love to which Jesus invites us demands more than fair-weather friendship; it is costly. Today Jesus challenges his followers to avoid any complacency in a comfortable, conforming religion and to accept the self-sacrificing cost of true love.