Gospel Reflection: Twenty-Second Sunday in Ordinary Time
Malvern Minute





May the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ enlighten the eyes of our hearts,

that we may know what is the hope that belongs to our call.



A reading  from the holy Gospel of Saint Matthew 16: 21-27

Take up his cross, and follow me

Jesus began to show his disciples 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.

Then Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him, “God forbid, Lord! No such thing shall ever happen to you.”   He turned and said to Peter, Get behind me, Satan! You are an obstacle to me. You are thinking not as God does, but as human beings do.”

Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself, take up his 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. What profit would there be for one to gain the whole world and forfeit his life? Or what can one give in exchange for his life?  For the Son of Man will come with his angels in his Father’s glory, and then he will repay everyone according to his conduct.

The Gospel of the Lord



Since today’s Gospel is a continuation of last Sunday’s Gospel in which Jesus questioned the disciples about His identity, we can rightly deduce that the purpose of this Sunday’s exchange between Jesus and Peter is to continue to focus on the true identity of Jesus.  In the previous passages of this Gospel, under the influence of the Holy Spirit, Peter correctly identified Jesus as the Christ, the Son of the living God.  However, now, Jesus wants to be sure that Peter, and all of us, clearly understand that being the Christ (the Messiah) involves more than reigning in glory … it requires crucifixion and death!

In fact, Jesus is very emphatic that whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me!   The true identity of a disciple, like the identity of the master, is willingness to accept crucifixion and death!   There is no glory without sacrifice!

Rightly so, Peter is shocked by this first prediction of Jesus’ impending suffering and death, and we can understand from a loving, human perspective why Peter would try to dissuade Jesus … for who would want a friend or a love one to die, let alone an agonizing death!  But, Peter goes further than just attempting to discourage Jesus.  The text says: Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him!  Peter chastised and criticized Jesus for such an unbelievable idea.

Immediately, Jesus responds, and strongly accuses Peter of being a demonic obstacle to divine plansGet behind me, Satan! You are an obstacle to me. You are thinking not as God does, but as human beings do.   Peter was seeing things from merely a human perspective and not from the eyes and will of God … but thinking as God does is not an easy activity for us humans.  Yet, when we refuse or neglect to open our hearts to the wisdom and will of God revealed in the Gospel, we invariably become obstacles, adversaries, or satans to God’s divine plan of salvation.

The divine plan for the salvation of the world is just that, a divinely conceived and executed plan.  For God to demonstrate His intense love for His children by offering His Son as the sacrifice is way beyond human comprehension and desire.  Like Peter, we would think there has to be another way … but, there is no other divine way!   True love by its very nature requires sacrifice … self-sacrificing love is the only real love!

Underlying Jesus’ understanding and acceptance of the divine plan is His unwavering trust in the Father – despite whatever happens, Jesus believes that the Father will preserve Him.  And, it is this trust and faith in the Father that Jesus wants His disciples to possess.  It is not enough for Jesus to sacrifice Himself; Jesus wants every disciple who identifies with Him to be equally willing to put all their confidence and faith in the Father no matter what.

What is your level of trust in the Father’s providence?

Do you believe that you can sacrifice everything because in the end you will have everything … life eternal?

In your quiet prayer times, let your deepest desire and intention be to see as God sees … to think as God thinks … to act as God acts!



Consider joining the Men and Women of Malvern by deepening your personal relationship with Jesus and your commitment as a disciple through a weekend retreat.  See our website for details: MalvernRetreat.com

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