SHARING SPIRITUAL FOOD: St. Catherine of Siena, Ripon, WI - Fr. Davies Edassery Sac
OT XXII [A] Deny Yourself: Jer 20:7-9; Rom 12:1-2; Mt 16:21-27
Today’s Gospel passage reminds us that Christian discipleship demands self-control (“Deny yourself”), the willingness to suffer (“take up your cross”), the readiness to follow Jesus by obeying his commandment of love, and generosity in surrendering our lives to God.
Scripture summarized: First reading is certainly a prototype of the suffering Christ. Second reading, Paul advises the Romans and us: to ‘’offer our bodies as a living sacrifice” to God by explicitly rejecting the ungodly behavior of the world around us and by discerning and doing the will of God. In the Gospel, Jesus takes his disciples by surprise when, after Peter’s great confession of Faith, Jesus announces 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.” After correcting Peter’s protest, Jesus announces the three conditions of Christian discipleship: “Deny yourself, take up your cross and follow me.”
Life messages: # 1: True disciples of Christ are: a) truly compassionate: they are willing to visit and help the infected and the sick in hospitals, the incontinent elderly, the handicapped and those who suffer dementia in nursing homes, and AIDS patients in hospices; b) truly humble: they are able to see that every good gift comes from God alone, and that His gifts to us of time, personal talents, and resources should inspire gratitude, not pride; c) truly patient: they are committed to working with challenging children, adolescents with problems, young adults who are struggling with their Faith, with the intellectually challenged and with those suffering dementia; d) truly forgiving: they are willing to forgive not just once, or twice, but again and again, because they know that God has forgiven them again and again; e) truly loving: they willingly visit people in prisons, in retirement homes, and in homeless shelters; and f) truly faithful: they are living out a committed, trusting relationship with God, with spouse, with family and friends.
# 2: We need to ask these questions as we examine our conscience. A true disciple examines conscience every day, asking three questions about discipleship: a) Did I sacrifice a part of my time, talents and income for my parish and the missionary activities of the Church? b) Did I practice self-control over my thoughts, words, deeds and use of mass media, and put loving restriction on the cell phone and Internet activities of my children? c) Did I train my children in my Faith in a loving, providing, redeeming God by encouraging them as we spend some time together as a family, praying and reading the Bible, and by teaching them through example and word to pardon each other, to ask for God’s pardon for our own sins and failures and to thank God for His blessings?
A certain lady who spent her time working for the Lord – visiting the sick and the bed-ridden, helping the elderly and the handicapped – was diagnosed of a knee-problem needing surgery. The surgery unfortunately, was not a success and so left her in constant pain and unable to walk. It seemed that the Lord had ignored the prayers of this woman and her friends for a successful surgery. This was a woman who considered herself a personal friend of Jesus. She was utterly disappointed, and her cheerful disposition turned into sadness and gloom. One day she pulled herself together and shared with her confessor what was going on in her soul. The confessor suggested that she go into prayer and ask her friend Jesus why he has treated her this way. And she did. The following day the priest met her and saw peace written all over her face in spite of her pain. “Do you know what he said to me?” she began, “As I was looking at the crucified Jesus and telling him about my bad knee, he said to me, ‘Mine is worse.’”