In our Gospel reading today, Jesus invites us to reflect on how we handle the challenge of pain and suffering in our lives. We are told that when Jesus informed his disciples of his impending passion and death, they were worried and afraid. Peter took Jesus aside and rebuked him for looking forward to his passion. Peter was thinking in a worldly way when he saw suffering and crucifixion as something to be avoided at all costs.
Our Christian life is like two sides of a coin: the cross and the crown. Jesus reminds us today that we are not his true followers if we try to embrace only one side, the glorious side, and reject the other, the suffering side. “If any want to become my followers, he must deny himself, take up the cross and follow me. For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.” (Matthew 16:24-25)
In our first reading today, we see how the Prophet Jeremiah vented his frustration on God about the weight of his cross. We are reminded that even Holy people are not immune from feeling the weight of their cross in life. In our own situation, in addition to our personal crosses, we are now all bearing a common cross from the current viral pandemic. The pain of isolation from our loved ones and community, the economic problems, and the fear of an unknown future can make some people vent their frustration on God like the Prophet Jeremiah did; we may question God, “why me?” or “why now?”
When we accept our crosses willingly, we discover that our cross can humble us, purify us, and draw us closer to God. On the contrary, when we try to run away from our crosses, resent the struggle, or blame God, we may end up losing our faith or even losing our lives. One loses his life when he abandons the faith or rejects God, either because of the weight of their cross or the attachment to the material things of this world. This is why Jesus asked the question in the Gospel today, “What will it profit a man if he gains the whole world but loses his soul, or what can one give in exchange for his life?”
Thank you and remain blessed,
Fr. JamesBACK TO LIST