Thursday, August 28, 2014
"Get behind me, Satan!"
This Sunday's Gospel, August 31, 2014 (22A), from Matthew presents us with the first prediction of Jesus' passion. It serves as a corrective to an understanding of Jesus' messiahship as solely one of glory and triumph. Our Discussion Questions will guide your Sunday Bible Study sessions with family, friends and church groups.
From "Rock" to Scandalon
Last week we heard in our Gospel reading about Peter’s spontaneous profession of faith, “You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God.” This was followed by Christ’s great mandate to Peter and his successors, “Upon this rock I will build my Church.” And yet here we are with the immediately following text where Jesus calls Peter a stumbling block and says, “Get behind me Satan” What has happened?
Fr. James Gilhooley points up a forgotten Christian truth. We enter here the strange world of denial. We are being reminded that each time the Nazarene savored a win, He immediately realizes that He would soon be given a bill for that victory. It is quite clear, Fr. John Foley, S. J. explains, that Jesus’ emotional state has changed. Our Lord is obviously dreading the suffering and death he tells them He will soon have to face. Second, the good father adds, Jesus had been gradually schooling the disciples about who he really is. Not just a great teacher or magnetic preacher or good friend, but the complete revelation of divine love.
Discerning God's will
Peter gives voice to the bewilderment and dismay of the other apostles to Jesus' announcement of imminent suffering and death. "This cannot be, Lord! " Such a reaction, Fr. Thomas Rosica, CSB highlights, portrays Peter's and our own inability to understand the mystery of God at work in Jesus, and in our lives. Peter and the others are confronted with the harsh reality of God's designs, completely unacceptable from the standpoint of human logic. What Matthew is telling us, explains Fr. Alex McAllister SDS, is that we have to tread very carefully so as not to become the very opposite of what we are meant to represent.
University student Rachel Dratnol notes that God has a plan for us, as He had a plan for His Son—plans that are sometimes incredible. Jesus chose God’s plan to die for us and our sins so that we might join Him in heaven. Authentic faith, according to Father Cusick, enables us to desire above all to see ourselves honestly, in the way that God sees us, to repent of our sins and then to live according to our need for God.
No sooner does Jesus make it clear that the cross is the center of His life then He says to His disciples that, if they wish to follow Him, they, too, must embrace the cross. Fr. John J. Ludvik notes how the disciples had to decide all over again: “Is this really what you want? Are you willing to pay the price of discipleship?”
Fr. Orlando Sapuay. M.S. says this was meant not just for those first apostles, many of whom would indeed die for their faith. It is meant for any of us who would call ourselves His disciples. Our real cross involves not what we know in advance, but the unexpected. Fr. Phil Bloom tells us that only by embracing the cross can we enter the joy Jesus has prepared for us. But we must also avoid a false understanding of the meaning of the cross. Demetrius R. Dumm, O.S.B. says it does not mean that suffering is good in itself but rather that the suffering that comes from loving is ultimately victorious and thus leads to a happiness that goes far beyond our wildest dreams.
Our following of Christ will inevitably lead to the Cross. And, as Fr. Ron Rolheiser reminds us, it is how we regard the Cross that will determine our response to it. We will then face the moment of truth; which we hope, with God’s help, will be the moment of our salvation.
The Youth and the Church
The Catholic Church—at least in the West—is passing through a dark period, largely of its own making. But has the Catholic Church lost the future? Rev. Robert Barron says the mainstream media wants you to think so. But any of those who experienced World Youth Day first hand would say, “Don’t you believe it.”
And anyone interested in the question of how to minister to young Catholics might want to set aside – just for a few minutes – all the expert advice you've bought and paid for over the years. Instead, Amy Welborn explains, they should watch and listen to what Pope Benedict said at World Youth Day three years ago during his time with these millions of young people. No charge for his wonderful must-read 5-point guide to youth ministry.
What is Hell and How Do I Get There?
The people at "From Aquinas and More" came up with this great piece. They say Hell is a logical necessity that arises from the choices you make on earth. You can choose to follow God or you can choose to reject God. In other words, you can take the trail to Hell with both eyes open. They offer a guide that will help you find the path to those pearly gates of Hell. Once inside, they added, you can make it your own adventure. And to offset the previous piece on getting into Hell, Taylor Marshall offers some great spiritual advice from a doctor of the Catholic Church. It's the five paths to repentance. It succinct and easily applicable. Please take a minute and read what St John Chrysostom has to say about it.
There is a disposition all too common among American Catholics: church isn’t a place for thinking. “Why should I take a class in Catholicism and read a lot of books? I believe in God. I pray. I go to church.” Randall Smith gathers that if you have a Ph.D. in law, economics, or science, but have nothing more than a third-grader's understanding of your faith, which do you suppose is going to dominate your life? He says a faith that isn’t growing is a faith in the process of dying.
So what do you say to those who challenge you like this, “How can you be a Catholic? That church is just a bunch of hypocrites and pedophiles.” Judith Costello says tell them what is profoundly true and awe-inspiring - our Church perseveres. We don’t go to church because we are people who never sin. Instead, we come before the only One deserving of worship to beg His forgiveness. We go to church for guidance from His words and through His sacraments.
Which brings us to Russell Shaw's two simple steps any lay person should be doing for new evangelization. The first is to be exemplary in living out the faith with courage and conviction — not just on Sunday but every day of the week. The second is to study the faith to be able to explain it intelligently and defend it when it’s attacked. While Msgr. Charles Pope on the other hand offers a meditation on the majesty of Mystery. He says mystery in the Christian understanding is not something to get to the bottom of. Rather, mysteries are something to appreciate, something to reverence, something to humbly accept as real. So, don’t just try and solve mysteries, he advises, live them!
Who You Are or What You Are?
Which of the two is more important to you? That's the challenge posed by Paul Dion, STL this week. He opens by offering his observation that nature doesn't present perfect symmetry as beauty. We're all about the same on the outside. It's on the inside that we differ. It's from the inside out that we define ourselves. It's in "winning and losing," it's in how we suffer and how we survive from what we have suffered that we define ourselves. And then he follows up with more comments about life and some of the lessons that God teaches us through it. He says winning isn't all it's cracked up to be. And that's just for starters. Check out this two-fer this week.
Finally as the summer season peaks, we bring you back a n articles about Bishop Paul D. Etienne of the Diocese of Cheyenne who discusses the Importance of Leisure. He reminds us that we are to remember always our relationship with God is at the heart of our wholeness as human beings. If all we do is “work,” even if that work is for God, we can easily lose our way.
Another eventful week in our Catholic World. A blessed and happy new week to all.
Keep the Faith. Peace.
Publisher & Editor in chief
BURNING QUESTION: What do you think is the Worst Sin?
FEATURED BLOG: Pope Benedict's Guide to Youth Ministry
PASTORAL HISPANA: La cruz es la insignia del cristiano
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