Brothers & Sisters,
I share with you from a book entitled “The Sunday Readings” by Father O’Sullivan, an explanation on the Gospel appointed for today.
Immediately after Peter’s confession that Jesus is the promised Messiah (see last Sunday’s Gospel), our Lord tells his disciples that even though he is the Messiah – in fact because he is the Messiah, he has to undergo humiliations, suffering and a violent death at the hands of the Jewish authorities in Jerusalem. He assured them though that he will be raised from the dead on the third day and the victory of the Jewish authorities will be short-lived.
Peter, again spokesman for all the disciples, could not imagine his master, who had such divine power, suffering anything much less death, at the hands of his enemies. The disciples still looked on Christ as a man with divine power. They had not yet grasped the spiritual nature of the kingdom he was establishing. Little wonder then that Peter argued with Jesus; it must have seemed to him that Jesus was joking – how could one who raised the dead to life be himself put to death?
In foretelling his sufferings and death, which took place some months later, Christ intended to prepare his disciples and other followers for what he knew would be for them a severe crisis of faith. He also took occasion from it to remind his disciples, and all others who would follow him, of what their attitude to suffering and death should be. He told them, and us too, that we must be ever ready to accept sufferings in this life, and even an untimely death if that should be demanded of us, rather than deny our Christian faith.
To prove their loyalty to their faith in Christ, thousands of Christians in the early Church, and thousands more during persecutions in later centuries, gladly took him at his word and went joyfully to their martyrdom. It is to be hoped that, aided by God’s grace, we would all be ready to imitate their example, if called on to prove our fidelity to Christ and our Christian faith. But at the moment what Christ expects and asks of us is that we should bear the sufferings and hardships of daily life cheerfully and gladly for his sake.
Think on these things!