22nd Sunday in OT (Jer 20:7-9; Matt 16:21-27)
PONDERING GOD’S WORD (Meditation)
Jesus—Messiah and Son of God. This was the response of Peter the last time Jesus asked his disciples who they say he was. After having given Peter the keys to the kingdom of heaven, he sternly forbade his disciples to tell anyone that he was the Messiah. This warning served, among other reasons, to forestall any misunderstanding about the Messiah.
“Messiah” means “anointed.” The Messiah is God’s anointed one, usually understood as the one chosen to lead the world and save it. The Jews believed that the anointed one would come from David’s line and unify the twelve tribes of Israel and establish peace. This is a political leader with temporal power.
But this is not the way of Jesus as Messiah. In today’s gospel he tells his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer greatly from the elders, the chief priests, and the scribes, and be killed and on the third day be raised. Peter rebukes him at this, telling him that this must not happen. The Messiah for them is a political leader, so different from what Jesus envisions.
Jesus calls Peter “Satan.” The one he has recently called “rock” has now become a stumbling block. Jesus reiterates the path of suffering by telling his disciples that whoever wishes to follow him must “deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me.” This path is not easy, but it is sure for it follows the path of the Messiah and leads to the resurrection on the third day. This was the path the early Christians were taking—suffering because they have chosen to follow Jesus, and losing their life for his sake. The words of Jesus come as a consolation to them.
- What makes our life as Christians difficult in these times?
- What are the crosses in my daily life? Do they make me a better disciple?
Pray to Jesus for strength to bear your daily crosses in life.