Sunday, September 13, 2015

24th Sunday in Ordinary Time - Take Up The Cross, Follow Me & Put Your Faith To Work

Faith without works is dead. Our Lord expects us to not just believe, but to put that "believe" to work.  I have been trying to do this for a few years now online and need your help. Please donate at: www.gofundme.com/sacerdotus and put your faith into action by helping me continue and expand this work.  Thanks and God bless you for your help.

Reflection:

In today's first reading, we see the foretelling of what happened in last week's Gospel with Jesus healing the deaf and mute man (see: http://www.sacerdotus.com/2015/09/23rd-sunday-in-ordinary-time-ephphatha.html). This first reading is also a foretelling of what Christ would go through in His passion.  He would be beaten, spat on and humiliated but would return no response to the violence (1 Peter 2:23).  We too much "turn the other cheek" and not return evil for evil or violence for violence (Matthew 5:38-48).  God is our help and our protection (Psalm 46:1, Psalm 28:7).  Let those who hate us and oppose us come forward; let them mock us and hate us (2 Peter 3:3).  God is with us (Psalm 46).  As long as we stay in God's truth, no one can prove us wrong.  We must walk with God in this life as the Psalm for today tells us.

Walking with God in the "land of the living" is a must, like the responsorial Psalm tells us.  God is always with us listening to our supplications (1 John 5:14, Psalm 66:19).  He may not answer every prayer, but He knows of them and what is in our hearts and minds (Jeremiah 17:10).  All kinds of evil can encircle us, but God will be there to save us (Psalm 22:16, Psalm 27:2).  God will rescue us from whatever may come to us, but we must be just and loyal to Him. Our faith must a living faith that works, not a dead one as the second reading tells us.

What good is belief without the exercise of that belief?  What good is faith if that faith is not put to practice?  St. Paul asks this question and states that such a faith does not save.  He is correct!  How can we be Catholic, believe in God and the teachings of the Church but refuse to help others and spread our faith?  What good is our faith in that regard?  Atheists criticize all Christians about this.  Many times when we see a homeless person or someone in need, we simply tell them "I will pray for you" instead of helping them with their material needs.  We say, "go in peace, keep warm, and eat well" as the reading tells us. This is not genuine Christianity.  We must put our faith into practice by not only believing in God but also by helping others (Matthew 5:42, Matthew 25:35-40). Today, many parishes are closing because of lack of participation and donations. We must do our best to help our parishes grow by participating and donating. It is in giving that we receive (Luke 6:38). Last week I shared a personal story of encountering homeless people in the streets of the Bronx. I can tell you first hand how good it is to help others in many ways, not just spiritually. Giving to others may seem strange.  Why should I give my hard earned money to others? The act of giving shows that we deny ourselves to serve God and others as we read in the Gospel.   It may seem strange, but it is a way to spiritually mature.  We may not always understand God's ways as we read in the Gospel today.

In today's Gospel, Jesus and His disciples went out to Caesarea Philippi. While traveling there Jesus asks the disciples "Who do people say that I am?"  They respond that the people think He is John the Baptist, Elijah or one of the other prophets.  Jesus then asks them, "who do you say that I am?"  Peter takes speaks first showing his leadership and tells Jesus, "You are the Christ."  Jesus then tells them not to say anything. He does this to avoid the fanaticism that would take place if people learned too fast who He really was.  Jesus then teaches them that He has to suffer greatly and would be rejected by the elders, chief priests etc which is connected to today's first reading.  He would then be killed but wil rise after three days. Peter took this news bad and rebuked Jesus, but Jesus told Him and said "Get behind me, Satan.  You are thinking not as God does, but as human beings do." Jesus was referring to His passion, death and resurrection.  Peter did not understand this and rebuked Jesus.  Jesus told Peter "Get behind me, Satan" because Satan is the one who would have something to protest about regarding Jesus' passion, death and resurrection.  It was in this moment that Jesus crushed the serpent's head so naturally Satan would not want Jesus to carry out what was supposed to happen (Genesis 3:15, Romans 16:20, Psalm 68:21).  Peter did not understand because he did not have the Holy Spirit yet (John 14, John 13:16).  We too may not understand things until we pray to the Holy Spirit to come and enlighten us (Isaiah 11:2). Many times, we try to rationalize things via our human understanding.  Atheists tend to do this a lot.  They see things via the lens of materialism and what they believe to be logic.  This is why they have a hard time understanding God and the things of God (Romans 11:33).  We wonder many times why God allows evil.

On Friday we were reminded once again of the horrific attacks against America. These things do not make sense to us yet we hear so much about "God's plan" in regards to the course of events.  No one can understand God's mind and why He allows certain things that we find horrendous (1 Corinthians 2:16, Romans 11:34). We trust that all things will lead to a greater good (Romans 8:28).  As followers of Christ, we must accept the cross and be prepared to suffer and possibly lose our lives for Him (Luke 14:27). We must deny ourselves and let Christ transform us (2 Corinthians 3:18). This does not mean that we cease having an identity. What this means is that we are restored to what God designed, not the fallen state that we are in now. Let us trust God always; put our faith into practice; not become a "Satan" attempting to thwart God's will and be prepared to carry the cross and suffer for Christ and the Gospel.  May Jesus Christ be praised.  



Readings:  http://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/091315.cfm

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