August 28, 2011 Twenty-Second Sunday in Ordinary Time(Mt 16, 21-27)
My dear brothers and sisters,
How are you this Sunday? Hurricane Irene is coming.
It is a blessing from on high that no harm will be done and the damage will not be great.
And I have such great news.
Today is the 22nd Sunday in ordinary Time and we also remember saint Augustine.
Especially, I’d like to introduce the right reverend abbot Augustine Hinches.
He is honored for name’s feastday. He was elected second abbot of this abbey in 1970 and resigned 1982. He is a ripe and advanced age of eighty-one.
I trust it is right to give our celebration and respect to abbot Augustine,
Because I think that his life is to offer his body as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God like today’s second reading from Romans.
Let us congratulate Abbot Augustine on his feastday,
and give thanks to the Lord,
for our God allows a respectable feastday and a new Sunday for us.
«take up your cross and follow me»
One day, a sister was explaining the Stations of the Cross to her class.
They got to the fourth Station where Jesus was on the road to Calvary where he meets his mother.
The sister explained that even though they could not talk to each other, mother and son spoke just using their eyes.
“What do you think they said to each other?” she asked the pupils.
The class gave many different answers. One kid suggested that she said, “This is unfair.” Another kid suggested that she said, “Why me?”
Finally a little kid raised his hand, got up and said: “Sister, I know what the Blessed Mother told Jesus. She said to him, ‘Keep on going, Jesus!'”
Do you know why a little kid would say that holy mother encourage her only son on the way to crucifixion to keep on going?
Maybe the little kid understands and remembers today’s Gospel, “deny yourself and take up your cross.”
In today’s gospel, we can see how poorly Peter understood the true mission of Jesus.
He still had to learn that God’s ways are often not human’s ways.
We sould not forget last Sunday when Simon Peter said and confessed to Jesus,
“You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God.”
And now, when we hear the words of this Gospel, “Jesus began to show his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer greatly … and be killed and on the third day be raised,”
we recognize the familiar story of the death and resurrection of Jesus.
But this was a story that the disciples had not even imagined.
They expected a political Christ as Messiah and a new kingdom of David.
They are disappointed, therefore, by the words of Jesus.
Jesus talked about resurrection indeed, but they could hear that Jesus would suffer and die, and that their dreams would die with him.
When Peter tried to dissuade Jesus, he received a sharp rebuke,
and was told that he must abandon human plans in favor of God’s way of doing things.
God’s way is first the way of the cross, and then only the blessings of freedom and joy. This does not mean seeking pain, or even awaiting pain;
it means simply trying to be loving, but which will also end in joy and fulfillment,
as it did for Jesus.
Simon Peter sought to flee, to escape, and to deny.
He is a great figure for us to contemplate. How many times did Simon Peter flee? How many times did he deny? And yet Christ named him Peter, Rock.
In the end we must remember that it was Simon Peter who declared, “Lord, you have the words of eternal life. To whom else can we go?” He knew that he couldn’t go it alone.
We, too, know that we can’t “go it alone”.
Do we come to Jesus then to be freed from our burdens, or do we come to Jesus to take on the cross? We come to Jesus to be freed from our meaningless and futile burdens and,
in its place, take on the cross that leads to salvation and glory. And the most important thing to remember when the Lord will come again, and then we will repay all according to our conduct.”
Therefore, I’m always grateful to see a cross with Christ’s body hanging on it.
It shows me the cost God paid in order to stay with us.
Jesus teaches us what thinking like God means: to love, with whatever is implied
about denying ourselves in favor of our brother and neighbor.
This is why following Christ means taking up the Cross.
And, when the Cross is a sign of sincere love,
then it becomes enlightening and a sign of salvation. Amen.