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Our Gospel this Sunday follows immediately after last Sunday’s Gospel in which Jesus asked his disciples: “Who do people say that I am?” Peter correctly identified Jesus as the Christ, the Son of the Living God. In our Gospel this weekend, Jesus tells his disciples the “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.” When Peter objected to this Jesus told him: “Get behind me, Satan! You are an obstacle to me. You are thinking not as God does, but as human beings do.” Jesus then went on to tell his disciples: “Whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself, take up his cross and follow me. “
In this Gospel Jesus is clear that his disciples should not expect a life free of difficulties or pain simply because they were his disciples. Rather, we can expect our reward or punishment at the end of our lives. This is made clear in the last line of this Sunday’s Gospel. “For the Son of Man will come with his angels in his Father’s glory, and then he will repay all according to his conduct.”
Our first reading this Sunday dovetails nicely with the Gospel. The prophet Jeremiah is upset that his words of chastisement and rebuke have caused him to be beaten and put into stocks. In a famous lament he says: “You duped me, O Lord, and I let myself be duped; you were too strong for me and you triumphed. All the day I am an object of laughter; everyone mocks me.” Given this, Jeremiah vows not to prophesy any longer. “But then it becomes like fire burning in my heart, imprisoned in my bones; I grow weary holding it in, I cannot endure it.” Clearly for Jeremiah, responding to God’s call was no picnic, yet he realized that ultimately in responding to that call he would find his salvation.
For our second reading this weekend, we continue to read from the Letter of Saint Paul to the Romans. It shares the theme of the Gospel and the first reading. Paul tells the Romans: “Do not conform yourselves to this age, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and pleasing and perfect.”
Questions for Reflection/Discussion:
1. When have you had to take up your cross and follow Jesus?
2. Have you ever felt like Jeremiah in our first reading?
3. What helps you discern the will of God in your life?