22nd Sunday of Ordinary time, Year A ( 03 September 2017)

The experience of Jeremiah in the First reading today is not really easily understandable. How can God seduce someone and instead of a message of PEACE, he is to shout violence and devastation. Following God, Jeremiah gets insult and derision, he becomes a laughing stock. In the same way Jesus tells his disciples what awaits him as he goes to Jerusalem: he would suffer many things from the Jewish authorities, the chief priests and the teachers of the law. Worst still he would be killed.

The sharp intervention of Peter: ‘Heaven preserve you, Lord…this must not happen to you; shows how Christians today want to receive crowns without crosses. Religion has become a sort of a commercial product like an analgesic pain killer. Religion is advertised now like Panadol, Paracetamol, Dolipranne, Efferalgran. We hear new generational churches claiming to be pain killers: Immediately you attend this crusade or visit this pastor or watch the TV program, you are healed. Religion can be akin to “take two Efferalgran tablets, and your headache will vanish”.

All these allegories drive to the fact that Jesus never preached or advertised Christianity without cross. He always speaks about renouncing oneself, taking up one’s cross, and losing one’s life in order to gain it. These are all opposed to what the world tells and promises us; what we, as Christians are asked to think and live, is to be a Christian. This is epitomized in Jesus’ rebuking of Peter, ‘Get behind me, Satan! You are an obstacle in my path, because the way you think is not God’s way but man’s.’
There is an intimate relationship between “receiving the mission” and “being nailed to the cross”. The Christian mission we receive from Christ our Lord cannot be conceived outside the ambit of the cross much less apart from the cross. In our life as Christians, before succeeding, we must accept to carry o our cross and follow Christ.

In effect, cross and suffering is part and parcel of Christianity. Jesus is therefore inviting us thus: if anyone wants to be a follower of mine, let him renounce himself and take up his cross and follow me. No cross, no crown. The cross therefore is our Christian identity.

Fr. Jude Thaddeus Langeh, cmf
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