Lector's Notes

First Reading – Tips

by Gregory Warnusz

Proclaim this with great drama and irony in your voice. Hit hard the word “duped” in the first sentence, then hit hard the expression “let myself be duped.” When you say that the word of God you are stifling “becomes like fire burning in my heart,” let the congregation feel the heat! You are trying to convey the prophet’s anguish, and you are preparing us to hear the day’s ominous gospel passage. This is not bland prose. If you believe grace builds on nature, don’t proclaim this blandly.

Second Reading – Tips

by Gregory Warnusz

The congregation will get a cursory overview of the moral teaching over the next to Sundays. Your proclamation is necessarily out of context and therefore not easy. Emphasize the word spiritual in the phrase “your spiritual worship.” That may distinguish it in the listener’s minds form merely formal, ritualistic worship. Emphasize the phrase “that you may discern what is the will of God,” since that is the part that gives the listeners the most responsibility.

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Intro to Readings
by Gregory Warnusz

First Reading

Jeremiah spoke the word of God to faithless kings and people in Judah’s captial Jerusalem around 600 years before Jesus. Powerful people persecuted him relentlessly. In this passage he starts by regretting his calling to be a prophet.

Second Reading

Saint Paul urges the Christians in Rome not to conform to the customs of their neighbors, but tune themselves to the will of God.

Gospel

In last week’s gospel, Peter identified Jesus as the Anointed of God. Now Jesus reveals the consequences of his mission. Peter takes exception.

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Sunday’s Central Themes

Commentary, bible study and Gospel videos

Word-Sunday.com

by Larry Broding

FIRST READING

Desperation, not despair

How can you be mad at a person, yet love him or her at the same time?

PSALM

Morning prayer

SECOND READING

Faith as self surrender

What bad habit or vice do you find difficult to give up? Why is it difficult to rid yourself of this nuisance?

GOSPEL

Live for tomorrow

Why is it easier for us to focus on today than the future? Why do we make decisions for the future based upon today’s needs?

Doctrinal Homily Outlines

by Kevin Aldrich

Take up your cross

Central idea: The Cross

Doctrine: The cross of a follower of Christ

Practical application: Taking up one’s cross


Living the Word

by Fr. Frank Bird, sm

This Sunday’s Discussion Guide

(PDF Download)

INTROFIRST READINGPSALMSECOND READINGGOSPELCONNECTIONSQUESTIONSCHURCH FATHERSCATECHISM
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Introduction

Video by Larry Broding. Visit Word-Sunday.com website for commentary and other resources regarding the readings for Sunday.

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First Reading

commentary

"You duped me, O LORD, and I let myself be duped; you were too strong for me, and you triumphed." — Jeremiah 20:7a

The Prophet Jeremiah is one of the seven Old Testament prophets painted by the Italian High Renaissance master Michelangelo (c. 1510-12) on the Sistine Chapel ceiling. The person of Jeremiah is imagined as lost in anguished meditation. Although the painting portrays Jeremiah as lamenting over the Destruction of Jerusalem, art critics have interpreted the figure as a self-portrait by Michelangelo, with the artist lamenting over the weight of his sins. VIDEOS: Ceiling of the Sistine Chapel and Virtual Tour of Sistine Chapel

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Responsorial Psalm

I gazed toward you in the sanctuary to see your power and your glory, — Psalm 63:3

St. Patrick’s cathedral in New York City opened in 1879 and was built for glory, exaltation, dignity, and a number of other attributes. At the time, the location was considered too far outside the city, but Archbishop Hughes believed the site would one day be the heart of the city. Today it is close to the center, not far from Times Square and Broadway.

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Second Reading

"Do not conform yourselves to this age but be transformed by the renewal of your mind" — Romans 12:2a

The Burj Khalifa in Dubai has been the tallest structure and building in the world since 2009. Its unique design and engineering challenges have been featured in a number of television documentaries, including Big, Bigger, Biggest and Mega Builders.

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Gospel

"Get behind me, Satan! You are an obstacle to me. You are thinking not as God does, but as human beings do.” — Matthew 16:23

Get Thee Behind Me, Satan (Rétire-toi, Satan), 1886-1896, by James Tissot (French, 1836-1902). Opaque watercolor over graphite on gray wove paper in the Brooklyn Museum.
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commentary

"You duped me, O LORD, and I let myself be duped; you were too strong for me, and you triumphed." — Jeremiah 20:7a

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First Reading

Jeremiah 20:7-9

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Fr. Eamon Tobin's Reflection

Jeremiah bears his heart to us

FIRST READING—In the Book of Jeremiah, we find five intensely autobiographical pieces, often called the “confessions of Jeremiah” (11:18, 12:6, 15:10-21, 17:14-18, 18:18-23, 20:7-18). In these so-called ‘confessions,’ Jeremiah bares his heart to us, sharing with us the cost of discipleship and his struggle with God. they give us an insight into Jeremiah’s “dark night of the soul” (a phrase coined by the Spanish mystic, St. John of the Cross, to speak about those times when one feels abandoned by God or feels no sense of his presence). The ‘confessions’ also speak of Jeremiah’s personal misgivings about his ability to be an effective messenger of God in the public forum. We are very fortunate to have this intensely personal sharing into the soul of one of Israel’s greatest prophets.

During a turbulent time in Israel’s history, Jeremiah is called by God to deliver a message that his people do not want to hear. Jeremiah must denounce corruption in the temple liturgy and condemn the people’s dabbling in foreign cults, chastise them for their many breaches of the covenant, and castigate them for ignoring the poor. Prophets are not known for their “feel good” messages.

Today’s verses open with Jeremiah sharing with us that in his call, he is duped or seduced by God (see Jer 1:4-6). He feels God has ‘put one over on him’ and he has allowed it to happen. In ways, he feels sorry for saying ‘yes’ to God.

As a sensitive and caring soul, Jeremiah does not enjoy being the “object of laughter” and having “everyone mock him.” But the people beat him up and throw him in a dark dungeon. Being a messenger of God is no fun (at least not for Jeremiah). On the contrary, it only brings him “derision and reproach all day long.” All of this leads Jeremiah to consider “early retirement.” “I say to myself, I will not speak in his name anymore.” But the divine fire received at his call cannot be extinguished. For Jeremiah, the only thing worse than being God’s prophet is saying “no” to God’s call. RESPONSORIA

©2020 Fr. Eamon Tobin. All Rights Reserved. Used with permission.

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Sr. Patricia Stevenson's Reflection

Why me?

FIRST READING—Jeremiah experienced the unfairness that is part of the good person’s life. “Why me?” We hear this cry everywhere. We’ve said it ourselves. Sometimes we feel good about our discipleship, we can sing, “Everything’s going my way”. Then come the moments when we stumble. We see the values of big business penetrating even the leadership of the church. We hear cries for justice from our leaders while ignoring their own injustice to many groups. Jeremiah echoes our grief and also the grief of God.

©2005 Sisters of Saint Joseph of the Sacred Heart. Used with permission.

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Fr. Clement Thibodeau's Reflection

God’s word is like a fire within me

FIRST READING—Jeremiah has every reason to complain about God’s call: The call was so over powering that it was more of a deception and seduction than an invitation. God has every right to use whatever means will persuade the one God wants to call to service. If Jeremiah had known ahead of time what rejection he would have to endure at the hands of his people, he would never have accepted to respond favorably to God’s call.Once having given his consent,though, the word of the Lord is like afire within him. There is an urgency about the message which cannot be resisted. It is as compelling as a carefully laid seduction. Who can resist the Lord when one is chosen?

© 2017 Portland Diocese / Father Clement D. Thibodeau. Used with permission.

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Sr. Mary McGlone's Reflection

Jeremiah’s soul-rending grief

FIRST READING—One of the many things the Scriptures, especially the Hebrew Scriptures, have to teach us is brutal honesty in prayer. It’s an honesty that not only expresses our deepest sentiments, but one which leads us to understand how our relationship with God has touched and formed us.

Today, we hear the prophet Jeremiah shouting one of the fiercest of his many complaints to God. (The French word jeremiad, meaning a prolonged lamentation, comes from his name.) “You duped me!” he cries, “And I let myself be duped.” That’s pretty strong language to use with the Almighty. Two ways of interpreting it are “You fooled me” or “You seduced me.”

Some of the next lines explain what he meant if the correct interpretation is “you fooled me.” When Jeremiah heard God’s call, he also heard God promise, “Do not be afraid … for I am with you to deliver you” (Jeremiah 1:8). Jeremiah believed that God would remain with him through thick and thin. But, instead of feeling the consolation of God’s love, he suffered the same desolation as God at the people’s sin. Like God, he mourned the results of their foolishness (Hosea 11:1-4). Jeremiah described his soul-rending grief saying, “Oh, that my head were a spring of water, my eyes a fountain of tears, that that I might weep day and night over the slain from the daughter of my people!” (Jeremiah 8:23). At another moment, he lamented, “Woe to me, my mother that you gave me birth!” “Everyone curses me,” and “Tell me, Lord, have I not served you for their good?” (15:10-11). Jeremiah’s worst problem was simply that God was true to the promise. Not only was God with him, but he was with God, suffering the same rejection that the people meted out to their Creator.

Jeremiah’s complaint is not just that of a disgruntled worker, someone who could go on strike or quit. The second interpretation of “you duped me” is “you enticed me, you seduced me.” That touches into the heart of Jeremiah’s problem. He had allowed himself to become involved in a passionate love affair with God. God’s word had drawn him in: “When I found your words, I devoured them; your words were my joy, the happiness of my heart.” But, such a love brought him to feel God’s own pain: “You filled me with rage” (15:16-17).

Jeremiah admits he was not just duped, but God’s word lives in him. Try as he would, he couldn’t ignore the fire of God’s message within him. He became God’s prophet, he consumed God’s word and God’s word now consumes him. Like Paul who told the Corinthians he was compelled to spread the Gospel, “Woe to me if I do not preach it!” (Corinthians 9:16), God’s word and presence inhabited him, and there was no turning back.

Jeremiah says, “You duped me and I let myself be duped.” While there is seemingly no happiness in his words, he is expressing profound love. In effect, Jeremiah is saying, “You called me, and I fell in love with you. Now, your cause is mine, no matter what it costs. There may be terrible moments in living this vocation, but it is ultimately better, more life-giving and fulfilling than anything else that could have ever happened.”

©2017 National Catholic Reporter. All Rights Reserved. Sr. Mary McGlone  is a Sister of St. Joseph of Carondelet. 2017 Reflections2020 Reflections can be read at National Catholic Reporter website.

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Jeremiah’s interior crisis

FIRST READING—In the First Reading, Jeremiah faced a crisis. It was not a crisis of faith but a crisis of expectation. The Lord called Jeremiah to demonstrate his love through his service as God’s holy prophet of judgment to his apostate countrymen and women. God called Jeremiah to his prophetic ministry when he was only about thirteen years old, and he began his prophetic service when he was eighteen. God warned Jeremiah about the price a prophet pays for speaking the words of God. However, Jeremiah discovered that it was a far more painful experience than he understood when he accepted his divine calling. In our reading, after Jeremiah experienced the ridicule and rejection of his countrymen, he blamed the Lord. The pain of his experience was not what he expected when God promised His protection, and he accused God of not preparing him for the suffering his prophetic ministry brought him. Jeremiah, however, did not reject his calling. He admitted that the Spirit of God within him was so strong that he could not deny his mission. God’s prophetic word wells up within him until he cannot hold it back.

Exploring the Text

Jeremiah complains about his calling

Jeremiah is the second of the Major Prophets. In the sixth century BC, God called the young man from a priestly family to deliver a covenant lawsuit and warning of God’s impending judgment to the people of Judah and the citizens of Jerusalem. In our passage, Jeremiah confesses his feelings to the Lord and complains about his calling. Jeremiah says that he feels deceived by God because he did not understand the suffering he was required to endure as God’s prophet (verse 7). His emotional suffering caused by the rejection and ridicule of his countrymen and his family, coupled with his physical suffering from beatings and imprisonment, has brought Jeremiah close to the point of despair. He was experiencing not a crisis of faith but a crisis of expectation concerning his prophetic ministry (verses 7b-8). Jeremiah would like to reject his calling and walk away from his mission, but he cannot because God is like a “burning fire” in his heart, and he cannot deny his holy mission (verse 9).

Agape Bible Study by Michal E. Hunt; used with permission.
Oracle of Isaiah in the New Testament

The oracle of Isaiah, especially in verse 22, finds significant resonance in the New Testament associated with our Gospel reading.  The text of verse 22 also has a link to the Davidic Messiah in the Book of Revelation.  That passage describes the Messiah as The holy one, the true, who holds the key of David, who opens and no one shall close, who closes and no one shall open (Rev 3:7).  Jesus is the new David, and the “key of David” that He holds is the key of divine authority to open the door of Heaven (Mt 3:16; CCC 1026).

Agape Bible Study by Michal E. Hunt; used with permission.
Origen of Alexandria: Could God ever deceive someone?

When Father of the Church, Origen of Alexandria (c. AD 185-254), the head of the school of Christian Catechesis in Alexandria, Egypt, read this passage, he asked himself whether God could ever deceive someone.  He explained the passage this way: “We are little children, and we must be treated as little children.  God, therefore, entrances us in order to form us, although we may not be aware of this captivation before the appropriate time comes.  God does not deal with us as people who have already left childhood, who can no longer be led by sweet words but only by deeds” (Homiliae in Jeremiam, 19.15).   St. John of the Cross concluded that sometimes God’s purposes are impossible for us to understand: “It is very difficult to attempt to understand fully the words and deeds of God, or even to decide what they may be, without falling often into error or becoming very confused.  The prophets who were entrusted with the word of God knew this well; their task of prophesying to the people was a daunting one, for the people could not always see what was spoken coming to pass” (Ascent of Mount Carmel, 2.20,6).

Agape Bible Study by Michal E. Hunt; used with permission.
Life application for us

When Christians face undeserved suffering, it is a test that requires great faith.  We must be like Jeremiah, who, after confiding his feelings to God, offered a confession of praise and expressed the confidence that God was with him in his sufferings as he continued faithfully in his mission to call the people of Judah and Jerusalem to repentance.  It is in those times of anguish that we must remember what St. Paul wrote: No trial has come to you but what is human.  God is faithful and will not let you be tried beyond your strength; but with the trial, he will also provide a way out, so that you may be able to bear it (1 Cor 10:13).

Agape Bible Study by Michal E. Hunt; used with permission.
PHOTO CREDIT (TOP OF PAGE): The Prophet Jeremiah is one of the seven Old Testament prophets painted by the Italian High Renaissance master Michelangelo (c. 1510-12) on the Sistine Chapel ceiling. The person of Jeremiah is imagined as lost in anguished meditation. Although the painting portrays Jeremiah as lamenting over the Destruction of Jerusalem, art critics have interpreted the figure as a self-portrait by Michelangelo, with the artist lamenting over the weight of his sins. VIDEOS: Ceiling of the Sistine Chapel and Virtual Tour of Sistine Chapel
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I gazed toward you in the sanctuary to see your power and your glory, — Psalm 63:3

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Responsorial Psalm

Psalm 63:2-6, 8-9

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Fr. Eamon Tobin's Reflection

My soul is thirsting for you, O Lord my God

RESPONSORIAL PSALM—This beautiful psalm expresses the author’s intense longing to be in the presence of God. Most likely, the psalm expresses the thoughts and feelings of Jeremiah on his better days.

©2020 Fr. Eamon Tobin. All Rights Reserved. Used with permission.

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David’s prayers during a time of suffering

PSALM—The Responsorial Psalm is a prayer recalling David’s suffering during the most lonely and fearful time in his life. In David’s prayer, he doesn’t reproach God for his painful experiences like Jeremiah. Instead, he trusts God to guide his life and places his destiny entirely in God’s hands. David’s turbulent life teaches us that sometimes even those who are God’s elect are called to endure trials and failures. Suffering can be a test that builds faith or a purifying experience, but in all cases, the burden of the mental and physical pain endured by God’s elect has a place in the mystery of redemption.

Exploring the Text

David's trust for God

The title of Psalm 63 is A Psalm of David when he was in the Wilderness of Judah.  This psalm, attributed to David, the shepherd boy God anointed as King of Israel, would have been written, according to its title, during the most lonely and fearful time of David’s life.  He had to flee King Saul’s court to save his life and took refuge as a hunted outlaw and outcast in the wilderness of southern Judah (1 Sam 19:11-12; 21:11-22:1).  Notice in David’s prayer that he doesn’t reproach God for his sufferings like Jeremiah.  Instead, he trusts God to guide his life and places his destiny entirely in God’s hands.  In verse 2, David speaks poetically of his deep love for the Lord and his intense need to be near to God, who is for him the source of life and happiness.  Separated from the liturgy of worship in his exile, David recalls the times he has spent in the presence of God, worshiping at God’s holy Sanctuary (verses 2-5).

Agape Bible Study by Michal E. Hunt; used with permission.
God's care for his people

8 You are my help, and in the shadow of your wings, I shout for joy.  9 My soul clings fast to you; your right hand upholds me.

The wording in verse 8 is reminiscent of the way God cared for the covenant people in their escape out of Egypt when He said, “I bore you up on eagle wings,” using a metaphor of protection like a mother eagle guards her offspring (see Ex 19:4).  The same imagery of divine protection in the “shadow” of God’s “wings” also appears in Psalm 17:8 and 57:1 (psalms also attributed to David).  In verse 8, David praises God for His divine protection and concludes his prayer of praise by affirming his confidence that God is with him and will uphold him in all his struggles and sufferings.

Agape Bible Study by Michal E. Hunt; used with permission.
Life application for us

David’s turbulent life teaches us that even God’s elect may experience both emotional and physical suffering. Personal suffering can be a test of faith or a purifying experience, but in all cases, the painful experiences of God’s elect have a place in the mystery of redemption.

Agape Bible Study by Michal E. Hunt; used with permission.
PHOTO CREDIT (TOP OF PAGE): St. Patrick’s cathedral in New York City opened in 1879 and was built for glory, exaltation, dignity, and a number of other attributes. At the time, the location was considered too far outside the city, but Archbishop Hughes believed the site would one day be the heart of the city. Today it is close to the center, not far from Times Square and Broadway.
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"Do not conform yourselves to this age but be transformed by the renewal of your mind" — Romans 12:2a

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Second Reading

Romans 12:1-2

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Fr. Eamon Tobin's Reflection

Conforming to God’s will

SECOND READING—Having spoken eloquently in chapters 1-8 on what God has done for us in Christ Jesus, Paul now, in chapters 12-13, calls for a moral response. In acknowledgment of God’s goodness, followers of Christ are to seek to make Christian values permeate every aspect of their lives. Authentic liturgy is not something that just takes place in Church. Ideally, our whole life is an act of worship to God. Offering ourselves to God means conforming to his will and not to the temptations of the world.

©2020 Fr. Eamon Tobin. All Rights Reserved. Used with permission.

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Sr. Patricia Stevenson's Reflection

Paul’s plea to remain faithful

SECOND READING—The short reading from the letter to the Romans is a plea from Paul to remain faithful to the Gospel. The meaning of sacrifice, is to make holy or to dedicate. In this passage Paul is comparing the faithful disciple to a place of worship dedicated to God. We carry within ourselves the blueprint of Christ. Therefore resist the lure of the values of a society that doesn’t understand the Gospel. Only a renewal of your mind and spirit will give you the skills to discern the mind of God.

©2005 Sisters of Saint Joseph of the Sacred Heart. Used with permission.

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Fr. Clement Thibodeau's Reflection

Dedicate yourselves to God’s will even in your bodies

SECOND READING—Therefore,at the very beginning of this passage, brings us to a conclusion of the whole argument which Paul has developed from Chapter 1 through Chapter 11! First,God has worked out our salvation in Christ Jesus, based on the whole history of salvation which began long ago. Therefore,the response of the Christian community has to be as followers! The life of a Christian has to be different because of what God has done for that person in Christ. The sacrifice we offer has to be spiritual as opposed to the sacrifices of  dead animals in the past. Spiritual here means a definitive commitment of the whole person.

The power of God has brought about a real metamorphosis of the whole person forthe followers of Christ. The inner image of Christ is the only test of the authenticity ofthe conversion which has been brought about in the life of the believer.

© 2017 Portland Diocese / Father Clement D. Thibodeau. Used with permission.

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Sr. Mary McGlone's Reflection

Responding to God appropriately

SECOND READING—Paul exhorts his readers “by the mercies of God.” He’s not speaking as a teacher or pastor making an ethical demand, but asking the people to consider what God has done for them and to respond appropriately.

What is appropriate? Paul says, “Offer your bodies as a living sacrifice.” He was not speaking of martyrdom; he called for a “living sacrifice.” That consisted in the double-pronged activity of standing up to the values of the age and allowing themselves to be transformed.

Paul’s message fits perfectly between those of today’s other two readings. With Jesus who was leading his disciples to Jerusalem, Paul calls the Romans to stand firm in rejecting conformity to the false values of the age. That implied that they were to cultivate their faithfulness to Christ, no matter the social cost.

Paul also called them to “be transformed by the renewal of your mind” so that they could discern God’s will. That was an exhortation to be like Jeremiah, allowing God to become the fire inside them, even to the point that they would not balk at any sacrifice.

©2017 National Catholic Reporter. All Rights Reserved. Sr. Mary McGlone  is a Sister of St. Joseph of Carondelet. Her 2020 Reflections can be read at National Catholic Reporter website.

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The Christian life as a living sacrifice of love

SECOND READING—In the Second Reading, after St. Paul described God’s redemptive works in Christ in his letter to the Roman Christians, he defines what should be the human response to God’s love.  The answer, Paul writes, is to: Offer your bodies as a living sacrifice to God.  Paul reminds the Roman Christians and us not to conform to the norms of a sinful world.  Instead, Christians must be transformed by living in the image of Christ as His witnesses of hope and faith to a world lost in sin.  When worshiping in His Divine Presence, we must prepare ourselves by being cleansed of all sin (mortal sins in the Sacrament of Reconciliation and venial sins in the Penitential Rite).  We present ourselves to Him with purified souls so that, as we walk forward in the Eucharistic procession, we come prepared to offer our bodies as a living sacrifice to God just as Jesus offers His sinless life to us in the Eucharist.

Exploring the Text

The pattern of Christian life

In this part of his letter, St. Paul summons the Roman community to a pattern of the Christian life that is responsive to the teaching of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  In Romans 12:1, Paul defines the necessity of a life of holiness in terms of each Christian offering himself or herself as a sacrifice acceptable to God, as a holy, living sacrifice.  Mercy/compassion is the keyword in this passage, for mercy is what defines God’s universal plan of salvation.  It is in his or her response to the call of “living in the spirit” that the Christian will fully experience God’s mercy.

Agape Bible Study by Michal E. Hunt; used with permission.
Animal sacrifice in the Old Covenant

Under the Old Covenant, the believer and the community demonstrated submission and obedience to Yahweh in the offering of the required animal sacrifices according to the Law (Lev Chapters 1-7; Num Chapters 29-30).  But neither the life of the animal nor the sacrifice of the life of the believer was a pure enough offering under the old order (see Ps 14:1; Rom 3:9-10).  No animal was perfect enough, and no matter how hard someone tried, one could not live a life of sinless righteousness under the Law of Moses.  Perfection was incomplete; there was no filling and indwelling of the Holy Spirit in the lives of Old Covenant believers because they were still under the dominion of sin (Rom 6:8-13).  Even so, God expected the best that one could give from a humble heart and a genuine love of God and not from ritual or rote performance (1 Sam 15:22-23; Ps 51:18-19; Hos 6:6; Amos 5:21-25).

Agape Bible Study by Michal E. Hunt; used with permission.
Living sacrifice in the New Covenant

The same, of course, holds for New Covenant believers.  Through the power of God the Holy Spirit, Christians can offer a “living sacrifice” that is acceptable through a life transformed by grace.  But we must remember that what we offer God must be “unblemished,” free from all sin.  Our self-offering must be pure and holy, sanctified by grace through the power of the Sacraments as a “living sacrifice” clothed with the righteousness of Jesus Christ.  This required state of purity and holiness is why we cannot receive communion if we are not in a state of grace (1 Cor 11:26-29). Merely following the rituals of our faith are not enough now just as they were not enough under the Old Covenant (1 Sam 15:22-23; Hos 6:6).  The result of true worship, as defined for Christians under the New Covenant, is through the acceptable sacrifice.  That sacrifice is Christ’s living sacrifice united to our living sacrifice, which has the power to reestablish communion with the Most Holy Trinity in a unity of spirit that comes from circumcised hearts infused with the living presence of the Christ.  It is in this way that we answer Christ’s call to “be perfect,” meaning to be a holy and consecrated people in Matthew 5:48 (as in God’s command in Lev 11:45; 19:2; 20:7, 26; Num 15:40; Dt 7:6; 14:2, 21; 26:19; 28:9; and repeated in Jam 1:4 and 1 Pt 1:16).

Agape Bible Study by Michal E. Hunt; used with permission.
St. John Chrysostom: Living in a state of grace

St. John Chrysostom identified the necessity for living in a state of grace to ensure the perfection of our personal living sacrifice: “How is the body to become a sacrifice?  Let the eye look on no evil thing, and it has already become a sacrifice.  Let the tongue say nothing filthy, and it has become an offering.  Let your hand do nothing evil, and it has become a whole burnt offering.  But even this is not enough, for we must have good works also.  The hand must do alms, the mouth must bless those who curse it, and the ears must find time to listen to the reading of Scripture.  Sacrifice allows of no unclean thing.  It is the first fruits of all other actions” (St. John Chrysostom, Homilies on Romans, 20).

Agape Bible Study by Michal E. Hunt; used with permission.
Living sacrifice in the Mass

We must be ever mindful that, in the celebration of the Mass, once the presiding priest speaks the prayer over the gifts with his hands extended, greeting us with the words, “The Lord be with you;” to which we respond in unison, “And also with you.”  With these words, the moment to prepare for the gift of our living sacrifice is upon us.  The priest then invites us with uplifted hands to offer the holy and living sacrifice of our lives with the words, “Life up your hearts,” recalling the Book of Lamentations 3:41, Let us stretch out our hearts and hands to God in Heaven; to which we respond with uplifted hands and a cry from the heart, “We lift them up to the Lord.”  In Scripture, one’s heart symbolizes everything that one thinks, feels, and believes; it represents the total essence of a person.  At this moment, each of us prepares to offer himself or herself, in a state of grace, as a pure and holy sacrifice to the Lord!

In the heavenly hymn of the Holy, Holy, Holy, the Sanctus, we ready ourselves to stand as a living sacrifice before the throne of God when heavenly and earthly worship become joined in the words of the Consecration.  As the Mass progresses, we wait in joyous anticipation for the invitation when the priest speaks the words that recall what John the Baptist said in John 1:29.  St. John introduced Jesus to the crowds on the shore of the Jordan River, saying, “This is the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world.”  Then, the priest adds, “Happy are those who are called to his supper,” the words St. John heard in his heavenly vision of the Wedding Supper of the Lamb (Rev 19:9)The priest then repeats the words of Jesus at the Last Supper, when He first offered the faithful His Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity.  Our response closely echoes the words of the Roman centurion at Capernaum in Matthew 8:8, when we say, “Lord, I am not worthy you that you should enter under my roof, but only say the word and I shall be healed.”

Then, because we have thoroughly examined our conscience (1 Cor 11:28) and repented our venial sins in the Penitential Rite, we can process forward, clothed in the bridal garment of grace (Rev 19:8).  In the procession to the altar, we go to Christ as an unblemished living sacrifice offered in love to the Savior as we receive Him in the most holy and intimate union of the Eucharist.  We would not dare to go forward to offer an imperfect sacrifice of ourselves, tainted with sin; doing so would bring God’s condemnation upon us (see 1 Cor 11:26-32).  The Eucharist is the sacrificial union of the Bride, who is the Church, and the Bridegroom, Christ, with each given in a perfect unity of love and sacrifice.

Pope Pius XII, instructing to the faithful concerning the offering of the Bride who is the Church to the Bridegroom who is Christ, wrote: “If the oblation whereby the faithful in this Sacrifice offer the divine victim to the heavenly Father is to produce its full effect […] they must also offer themselves as victim, desiring intensely to make themselves as like as possible to Jesus Christ who suffered so much, and offering themselves as a spiritual victim with and through the High Priest himself”  (Pius XII, Mediator Dei, 25; see CCC# 2099; 2100).

Agape Bible Study by Michal E. Hunt; used with permission.
Paul's two commands

2 Do not conform yourselves to this age but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and pleasing and perfect.

In Romans 12:2, Paul gives two commands.  He tells Christians:

  1. Do not model your behavior on the contemporary world.
  2. Let the Holy Spirit’s renewing of your minds transform you.

The first point concerns our rejection of the standards of the world and our submission to the principles of holiness laid out in Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount.  It is His teaching in the Beatitudes that defines our living sacrifice.  It is the way we model our behavior that is opposed to the behavioral norm of the “world of the flesh.”  However, we must be aware that this refusal to conform to the world’s standard may bring ridicule and persecution.

Concerning the second point: in Romans 8:29, Paul told the Christians of Rome to live “life in the Spirit,” they are called to be conformed to the image of his Son.  In other words, Christians must all live a transformed life “in imitation of Christ.”  Does this mean to live only in the image of His resurrected life?  No, it also means to live in imitation of His mercy, His forgiveness, and His suffering as Paul wrote in 8:17, And if we are children, then we are heirs, heirs of God and joint-heirs with Christ, provided that we share his suffering, so as to share his glory.

Paul urged the Roman Christians to transform themselves into the image of Christ and to offer their lives as a sacrifice for the sake of the Gospel.  In living a life of sacrificial consecration, believers must discern what it is God requires of them.  All Christians are under the obligation to seek the will of God in their lives.   You cannot discern God’s will for your life if sin has a hold on you.  The Christian must discern God’s will by being clothed in the garment of grace, committed to prayer, and seeking to determine the gifts the individual believer has received from the Holy Spirit.  As in any gift, its genuine value can only be realized in the useful application of what has been received.

Agape Bible Study by Michal E. Hunt; used with permission.
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"Get behind me, Satan! You are an obstacle to me. You are thinking not as God does, but as human beings do.” — Matthew 16:23

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Gospel Reading

Matthew 16:21-27

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Fr. Eamon Tobin's Reflection

The cost and rewards of discipleship

GOSPEL—We have here a sequel to last week’s Gospel, with Peter once again as the main character. Last week, Jesus praises Peter for recognizing him as the Messiah. This week, Jesus rebukes Peter for suggesting that he avoid the Cross. Here, the ‘rock’ becomes “a stumbling block.” His remark to have Jesus avoid the Cross puts him in a league with Satan. While Peter recognizes Jesus as the Messiah who is to bring about the new reign of God, he clearly has no idea, or maybe has a false idea, of how Jesus will exercise his mission as Messiah or accomplish the reign of God. Peter has yet to learn that Jesus will not be a regal warrior type of hero, but a humble, suffering Messiah.

Then Jesus goes on to speak about the cost and rewards of discipleship. The disciples must be willing to embrace the crosses of life and die to themselves, i.e., to their false self – proud, vain, self-seeking. Jesus, not oneself, must be the center of one’s life. In dying to the desires of the false self, we will discover and grow into our true (Christ) self. The Gospel concludes with a reminder that ahead for each of us is a day of reckoning. Our words and deeds will have eternal consequences. Later in Matthew’s Gospel (25:31-46), believers will learn the criteria upon which judgment will be administered.

©2020 Fr. Eamon Tobin. All Rights Reserved. Used with permission.

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Sr. Patricia Stevenson's Reflection

The motif of temptation

GOSPEL—Last Sunday’s reading had Peter on a high, “You are the Christ the Son of the living God.” Peter’s image of God was of a God detached from the suffering of humanity, not the God of the prophets. When Jesus indicated to his disciples that he would suffer and die this was too much for Peter.

The dialogue of Peter with Jesus is reminiscent of the encounter of Jesus with Satan the Tempter. “If you are the Son of God throw yourself down, the angels will catch you. (Mtt4:6)” As Jesus had rejected this challenge to test God so he now rejects Peter’s suggestion, he calls Peter, Satan.

The motif of temptation is repeated for a third time in the passion narrative. This time “Satan”, the tempter is Jesus’ own fear. “My father, if it is possible, let this cup pass away from me… This cry from Jesus is a reminder to us that Jesus was just like us. When deep suffering or death faces us all our pious promises of undying fidelity count for little our first cry is that of a child, “Why didn’t you save me?”

Jesus’ prayer doesn’t end with the plea to be rescued he continues, “But not as I wish, but as you do.”

This is the Jesus’ prayer. “Not my will but your will be done.”

As the prophets knew that their journey was one of painful tension between proclaiming the Word of God and facing the negative responses of the people they challenged so too did Jesus know that to challenge those who hold power over a community is to court pain. Therefore he understood that the religious authorities, whose life-styles, values and interpretation of their religious tradition he challenged, would seek to silence him. The Gospel writers with the benefit of history were able to add the explicit details of his dying.

©2005 Sisters of Saint Joseph of the Sacred Heart. Used with permision.

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Fr. Clement D. Thibodeau's Reflection

God’s will comes before self-will

GOSPEL—Matthew has just given us Peter’s Great Confession: Jesus is the Christ, the Anointed One of God. Now, he wants us to know what that really means! The kind of Christ which God wants Jesus to be is not the kind thatthe society of the time would have wanted. This Christ is the one who lays down his life for his people; he is the one who suffers for their salvation;he is the servant who would not accept worldly titles and honors.

Moreover, Matthew wants the Church leaders of his day (and of today) to know thattheycannot be other than their Master. They,too,will suffer and die for the sake oftheirfollowers.They must be like Jesus in all things.

Jesus does not merely teach, as Mark would have it (Mark 8:31); in Matthew heshows. It is a matter of revelation (See Revelation 1:1). The death and resurrection of Jesusdo not just happen.The “must”is part of God’s plan. That’s the way it has to be because Godwants it so.

A Messiah who does not suffer, die,and rise again in glory is not the Messiah of God!Matthew wants us to remember that Satan has already been overcome by the refusalof Jesus in the desert temptations. That satan cannot be allowed to intrude his opposition to God yet again! How can that satan have any power now? Peter is called to reject that satan inhis life and ministry just as Jesus did in his. The Church cannot ever again allow that satan tosuggest any deviation from the paths which Jesus has traced.

“Get behind me, satan!” Translators today, such as Father Eugene LaVerdiere, tellus that Jesus really said to Peter, “Get in line behind me, Peter! Walk in my footsteps! All the way to the cross! And to resurrection!”

Jesus asks us to lay down our lives. Life in the Greek text means self. The whole personmust become involved with Jesus Christ or it will be of no value at all. Matthew wants the Church leaders of his day to know that they have no advantage in choosing those things that would win them approval in the values which are being promoted in the world of theJews or in the world ofthe Gentiles. Only in total self-surrender will the community find itsway to the kingdom of God.

© 2017 Portland Diocese / Father Clement D. Thibodeau. Used with permission.

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Sr. Mary McGlone's Reflection

From that time on…

GOSPEL—Though we don’t hear the first four words as a part of the Gospel passage this Sunday, Matthew 16:21 begins “From that time on, Jesus began to show his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem” (emphasis added). Those first four words were important to Matthew because they signaled a turning point in his Gospel. Things were getting more intense, and Jesus was going to concentrate his teaching ministry on those closest to him, trying to lead them to understand him more profoundly, and thus, strengthen their faith in God. Today’s Gospel presents the first of Jesus’ three specific predictions about the suffering and death he was to undergo. While those three differ in the details, they all end with the promise that he will be raised “on the third day.”

Between the time in the desert when the tempter offered Jesus three ways to betray his vocation and this announcement of the passion, we have a few hints about how Jesus grew in understanding what his faithfulness would cost him. Earlier, he had warned his disciples that they would be persecuted (Matthew 10). He encouraged them to become as simple as doves and shrewd as serpents. Most of all, he taught them that the powers of evil might be able to kill the body, but that they have no power over the soul. In the language of the day that meant that the powers of this world can injure and even destroy the body (soma), the physical, ever-changing, perishable dimension of the human person. But the psyche or “soul,” the real self where conscience, decision and relationships reside, is beyond the power of evil.

Jesus told his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem, to the confrontation between the kingdom of his Father and kingdoms of this world. To avoid that confrontation would have amounted to a passive approval of the rule of the religious and civil authorities who were so threatened by him that they were determined to eliminate him. Refusal to face them down would have affirmed the superiority of their power. Jesus had to face them to be true to himself. He had to risk his body to save his soul.

Peter’s response to Jesus’ plan seemed to make very good sense: “God forbid!” Peter was operating on the level of safety rather than salvation. Unwittingly, he echoed the desert tempter whose every suggestion attempted to sway Jesus from being true to his vocation. Jesus replied with the harsh retort: “Get behind me!” Peter the “rock” was putting himself in Jesus’ path as a stumbling block, and Jesus will not fall for it.

There’s no collegiality here, no room for debate. Jesus has discerned the necessary path, and his disciples can only choose whether or not to follow him as he carries it through. Will they get behind him? Are they committed to follow him? If so, they will have to do it in his style, leaving behind their visions of a mythic messiah who would overpower the world on its own terms. If they were planning on a victory that reflected the values of their society, Jesus was offering something entirely different, something far more costly and far more rewarding.

The incident we witness here between Jesus and his disciples gives plot, characters and script to what John’s Gospel says so succinctly with the proclamation: “I am the way and the truth and the life” (John 14:6). The first issue in Matthew’s scene is truth, most specifically, Jesus being true to himself, to his Father and his vocation. Jesus presents and represents truth and all its depth in stark contrast to the mendacity and superficiality of his adversaries. Jesus invites his disciples to follow him in the way of truth which means to be willing to risk their own lives rather than lose their reason for living.

This is a turning point in Matthew’s Gospel. Immediately after Peter spoke for the disciples and acknowledged Jesus as Messiah, Jesus began to intensify his teaching about what was implied in following him. As always, his primary way of teaching was through his behavior. His words simply explained what he was doing.

We come to the liturgy to hear this Gospel, not as a scene from the past, but as a challenge to decide whether or not we are willing to follow Christ on the way to Jerusalem today and be ready for all that will demand of us.

©2017 National Catholic Reporter. All Rights Reserved. Sr. Mary McGlone  is a Sister of St. Joseph of Carondelet. Her 2020 Reflections can be read at National Catholic Reporter website.

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Jesus predicts his passion and states the conditions of discipleship

GOSPEL—The Gospel Reading reminds us that Christians must demonstrate an undivided commitment to their divine calling as citizens in Christ’s Kingdom of the Church. In response to Christ’s redeeming sacrifice of love, we must willingly take up our crosses of suffering and follow Jesus’ example of self-sacrificial giving. The secret of happiness for the Christian is not to avoid suffering and sacrifice but to embrace God’s call to follow in the footsteps of Jesus Christ. It is a path that leads us to Heaven and life among the congregation of the blessed.

Exploring the Text

The turning point in Jesus' ministry

Matthew 16:21 announces a turning point in Jesus’ ministry.  This passage is the first of three predictions that Jesus gave concerning His Passion in the Gospel of Matthew (see Mt 17:22-23 and 20:17-19; the prophecy is also repeated three times in the Gospels of Mark and Luke).  In sharing this secret with the disciples, Jesus is correcting the common misperception that the Messiah is coming in triumph and glory to conquer Israel’s enemies and reestablish the political Davidic kingdom on earth, just as it had been in the past in the glory days of kings David and Solomon.  Jesus’ revelation of His suffering and death in fulfillment of Isaiah’s prophecies of the Suffering Servant (Is 52:13-53:12) marks a new phase in Jesus’ ministry, introduced by Matthew with the phrase “From that time on” (Mt 16:21).

Agape Bible Study by Michal E. Hunt; used with permission.
The reference to the 'third day'

In addition to being a link to the “sign of Jonah” (Mt 16:4), the reference to the “third day” in Mt 16:21, may also be intended to recall the prophecy in Hosea 6:1-2 ~ In their affliction, they shall look for me: “Come, let us return to the LORD, for it is he who has rent, but he will heal us; he has struck us, but he will bind our wounds.  He will revive us after two days; on the third day he will raise us up, to live in his presence.

Agape Bible Study by Michal E. Hunt; used with permission.
Jesus asks Peter 'Who do you (plural) say that I am?''

Then Jesus asks the disciples, “who do you [plural] say that I am?” St. Peter responds to Jesus’ question concerning His true identity by confessing that He is not only the promised Davidic “Messiah” but that He is “the Son of the Living God.” While the usual meaning of the title “son of God” in the Old Testament referred to a form of adoption as “sons” of God for angels, prophets, the children of Israel, or Davidic kings, this is not the way Peter offers his confession of Jesus’ identity.

Agape Bible Study by Michal E. Hunt; used with permission.
Peter resists what Jesus is saying

Peter resists what Jesus has told the disciples about His suffering and death.  Peter fully understands that Jesus is the divine Messiah, and he knows that Jesus is God Himself come to gather His scattered people and fulfill the prophecy of Ezekiel chapter 34 (see Peter’s profession of Jesus’ true identity in Mt 16:16).  Peter knows the Temple hierarchy has no power over the divinely anointed Messiah.  Therefore, he cannot comprehend why Jesus would allow Himself to be killed by those in authority over the Church of the Sinai Covenant when He could simply consume them in holy fire like the rebellious priestly sons of Aaron (Lev 10:1-2).  Jesus rebukes Peter because he has voiced opposition to God’s divine will when he should humbly accept God’s plan by assisting Jesus in His mission.

Agape Bible Study by Michal E. Hunt; used with permission.
Jesus' harsh rebuke of Peter

23 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.

Jesus’ rebuke is harsh.  The Hebrew word satan means adversary.  In the Hebrew Old Testament, the word satan always appears with the definitive article “the” (ha in Hebrew); the only exception is 1 Chron 21:1).  Jesus does not refer to Peter as “the satan,” and, therefore, Jesus is not saying that Peter is “Satan.”  However, whenever one stands as an adversary to God’s plan for humanity’s salvation, that person is indeed acting as Satan in human form.  Jesus’ rebuke of Peter is similar to His rebuke of Satan in Matthew 4:10.

Agape Bible Study by Michal E. Hunt; used with permission.
The image of the cross

24 Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me.  25 For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.  26 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?

In verse 24, Jesus uses the image of a cross, an instrument of death in the execution of criminals, as a shocking metaphor for the obedience of discipleship.  Jesus’ condition for true discipleship is the willingness to disown one’s self-interest to the point of being willing to suffer and even die for Jesus and the Gospel of the Kingdom.  When a righteous person accepts suffering or even death, united to the suffering and death of Jesus, he or she becomes a partner with Christ in the mystery of the redemption of humanity.  This partnership applies only to the innocent and righteous that experience undeserved suffering and not for suffering generated as a consequence of sin or as an accomplice or supporter of evil acts.

Agape Bible Study by Michal E. Hunt; used with permission.
The Son of Man will come with his angels

27 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.”

Verse 27 is a prophecy of the Second Advent of Christ (the Parousia) just before the Last Judgment (Mt 25:31-46; Jn 5:25-29; 1 Thes 4:16).  The phrase the Son of Man coming in his kingdom is probably also a reference to the vision of the 6th-century BC prophet Daniel who wrote: I saw One like a son of man coming on the clouds of heaven; when he reached the Ancient One and was presented before him, he received dominion, glory, and kingship; nations and peoples of every language serve him.  His dominion is an everlasting dominion that shall not be taken away; his kingship shall not be destroyed (Dan 7:13-14).  Jesus will refer to this passage when answering the High Priest at His trial before the Jewish Sanhedrin, claiming that Daniel’s vision refers to Him (Mt 26:64; Mk 14:61-64).  At the time of His Second Advent and the Last Judgment, the judgment of humanity will depend on each person’s deeds that are individual acts of righteousness demonstrated in works of mercy, as Jesus will explain in His discourse on the Last Judgment in Matthew 25:31-46.

Agape Bible Study by Michal E. Hunt; used with permission.
Life application for us

Jesus’ invitation to discipleship calls for a radical response to the reality of His Cross.  It was the unique sacrifice of Christ by which He united Himself to every man and woman ever born, offering “the possibility of being made partners, in a way known to God, in the paschal mystery” (CCC 618).  He calls us to “take up” our crosses and follow Him, For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example that you should follow in his footsteps  (1 Pt 2:21).  The devotion of the Virgin Mary is the best example of the kind of self-denying love that Jesus says is the mark of the true believer.  The Blessed Virgin associated herself more intimately than any other person in the mystery of her Son’s redemptive suffering (Lk 2:35).  As St. Paul wrote: The Spirit itself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs, heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ, if only we suffer with him so that we may also be glorified with him (Rom 8:16-17, emphasis added).  It is, after all, as St. Rose of Lima wrote: “Apart from the cross, there is no other ladder by which we may get to heaven.”

Agape Bible Study by Michal E. Hunt; used with permission.
PHOTO CREDIT (TOP OF PAGE): Get Thee Behind Me, Satan (Rétire-toi, Satan), 1886-1896, by James Tissot (French, 1836-1902). Opaque watercolor over graphite on gray wove paper in the Brooklyn Museum.

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"When the Roman Empire fell, the Church took on the models of governance that had worked for the civil administration of the empire and adapted them to the internal government of the Church community."

Church government

Pastoral Connection

by Rev. Clement D. Thimbodeau

To this very day, the Church still struggles with the choice it must make between being conformed to the world or being conformed to Jesus Christ.

All too easily we assert that we are indeed conformed to Jesus Christ! A closer analysis will show that we are continually adopting worldly forms and worldly standards for the development and implementation of the Gospel. We become more like the civil society in which we live than like the community of faith which Jesus asks us to be. We imitate the structures of the world in which we live rather than transform those structures we find in place so that they will be more amenable to the work of building God’s kingdom.

When the Roman Empire fell, the Church took on the models of governance that had worked for the civil administration of the empire and adapted them to the internal government of the Church community. After all, Church leaders had become responsible for much of the civil administration which was in shambles when the Church found itself responsible for societal leadership along with ecclesial leadership.

In the Middle Ages, the Church took on a lot of the forms and ceremonies that attended the feudal organization of society. Bishops became lords of the social order, often with responsibility for civil affairs as well as for Church affairs. Some priests held the civil title of monsignor and carried the title over into Church business.

Today, we are often persuaded that the ideal form of Church government would again be the civil model: democracy. Those who resist this tendency often do so in the name of a more traditional model: feudal autocracy. The only thing to commend this latter model is that it is more ancient, not that it is more Gospel-based!

How can the Church find a style and model for its own internal government that is not so marked by the characteristics proper to civil society that it fails as an effective means for assuring Church order?

Jesus would have us take up the daily charge and responsibility for leading one another to the heavenly kingdom by following in his footsteps, with the cross upon our shoulders!

ECHOING GOD’S WORD – © 2017 Rev. Clement D. Thimbodeau (1932-2017); Used with permission.
PHOTO CREDIT (TOP OF PAGE): Basilicas were a type of building used by the ancient Romans for diverse functions including as sites for law courts. This was the category of building that Constantine's architects adapted to serve as the basis for the new churches. The photo shows an exterior view of the apse, Basilica of Santa Sabina, c. 432 C.E., Rome.

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Faith Sharing

Questions

Opening Prayer

by Fr. Eamon Tobin

Jesus, following you and your ways is sometimes very hard. In those times, help me to feel your strength.

Questions

Three sets of questions suitable for individual or group use. Choose one to best fit your purpose and time restraints: Faith Sharing Questions (by Fr. Eamon Tobin), Discussion Questions (by Fr. Clement D. Thibodeau), and Scripture Study Questions (by Vince Contreras).

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Faith Sharing Questions

1. Turn to the person next to you and share what word/s or image/s in the readings caught your attention. Did they comfort or challenge you or touch you in some way?

2. Jeremiah felt ‘duped’ by God. What do you think he meant by that? Have you ever felt that life without your ‘yes to God’ would be easier?

3. Jeremiah compares his relationship to God as “a fire burning in his heart.” What might be an image you would use to describe your relationship with him?

4. In the second reading, Paul tells us that we must not “let our lives be conformed to this world.” Can you name some ‘ways of the world’ that it can be easy enough for Christians to embrace?

5. The ‘Covid-19 event’ is and may continue to be a big cross for many people to carry. How did it most impact your life?

6. Name one thing today’s Gospel says to us that we disciples of Jesus need to heed and act on.

©2020 Fr. Eamon Tobin. All Rights Reserved. Used with permission.

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Discussion Questions

1. In what ways has the cross become so familiar that it is no longer a sign of suffering and of dying? Is it good that in America we have shied away from the bloody crosses and crucifixes which were part of the Spanish heritage? Can there be a dying which is not bloody and not painful?

2. Do you suppose that Peter resisted Jesus’ version of Messiahship because he had some intuitive knowledge that if Jesus was to suffer and die then he too would have to follow the same path? Is it true that we also tend to gloss over the sufferings of Jesus so that we will not have to face up to our own suffering and dying in his name?

3. Why does Jesus rebuke Peter in this Gospel? Does the rebuke apply in someway to the path which many of us have chosen in the Church today? How can we avoid the rebuke of Jesus in our lives? Can the Church community be so committed to the cross of Jesus that it will not even seek any worldly honors or prestige?

© 2017 Portland Diocese / Father Clement D. Thibodeau. Used with permission.

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Scripture Study Questions

1. In the 1st Reading, what are some of the sacrifices, great and small, that Jeremiah must make in being God’s prophet? What are some of the sacrifices we make (or may be called to make) in serving the Lord?

2. In the 2nd Reading, what does St. Paul mean when he refers to a “spiritual sacrifice”? How does he advise we offer these to God?

3. In light of last week’s Gospel, why does Jesus change the direction of his teaching now?

4. What kind of Messiah was Peter expecting? Why was Jesus’ response to Peter so strong?

5. Putting yourself in the disciple’s time and place, what would your reaction be to Jesus’ statement of verse 21 (see 1 Corinthians 1:18, 22-25)? What is comparable today?

6. What does it mean to “deny” one’s self? To take up your cross? To follow Jesus?

7. What earthly possession or lifestyle is worth exchanging for eternal life with God (verse 26)?

8. What have I given up to follow Jesus—today and everyday?

9. What picture comes to mind when you think of how Jesus “will repay everyone according to his conduct” (verse 27. See also Matthew 25:31-46)?

© 2011 Vince Contreras. Used with permission.

Closing Prayer

by Fr. Eamon Tobin

Jesus, in the first reading today, Jeremiah compares his relationship to you to a ‘fire burning in his heart.’ Help us to burn with love for you. Amen.

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The Catena Aurea

Saint Thomas Aquinas

The Catena Aurea (or, Golden Chain) is a compilation of Patristic commentary on the Gospels and contains passages from the Church Fathers. In this masterpiece, Aquinas seamlessly weaves together extracts from various Fathers to provide a complete commentary on all four Gospels.

List of Church Fathers

Here are some of the Church Fathers that Aquinas uses:

Third Century

  • Origen  – Alexandrian biblical critic, exegete, theologian, and spiritual writer; analyzed the Scriptures on three levels: the literal, the moral, and the allegorical
  • Cyprian  – pagan rhetorician converted to Christianity; acquired acquired a profound knowledge of the Scriptures and the writings of Tertullian; elected bishop of Carthage; martyred in 258

Fourth Century

  • Eusebius  – Bishop of Caesarea; author of Ecclesiastical History, the principal source for the history of Christianity from the Apostolic Age till his own day; also wrote a valuable work on Biblical topography called the Onomasticon
  • Athanasius  – Bishop of Alexandria; attended the Council of Nicea; opposed Arianism, in defence of the faith proclaimed at Nicaea—that is, the true deity of God the Son
  • Hilary  – Bishop of Poitiers; the earliest known writer of hymns in the Western Church; defended the cause of orthodoxy against Arianism; became the leading Latin theologian of his age
  • Gregory of Nazianzus  – one of the “Cappadocian Fathers”; a great influence in restoring the Nicene faith and leading to its final establishment at the Council of Constantinople in 381
  • Gregory of Nyssa  – one of the “Cappadocian Fathers”; Bishop of Nyssa; took part in the Council of Constantinople
  • Ambrose  – Bishop of Milan; partly responsible for the conversion of Augustine; author of Latin hymns; it was through his influence that hymns became an integral part of the liturgy of the Western Church
  • Jerome  – biblical scholar; devoted to a life of asceticism and study; his greatest achievement was his translation of the Bible into Latin (the Vulgate); also wrote many biblical commentaries
  • Nemesius  – Christian philosopher; Bishop of Emesa in Syria
  • Augustine  – Bishop of Hippo (in northern Africa); a “Doctor of the Church”; most famous work is his Confessions; his influence on the course of subsequent theology has been immense
  • Chrysostom  – Bishop of Constantinople; a “Doctor of the Church”; a gifted orator; his sermons on Gen, Ps, Isa, Matt, John, Acts, and the Pauline Epistles (including Hebrews) established him as the greatest of Christian expositors
  • Prosper of Aquitaine  – theologian; supporter of Augustinian doctrines; closely associated with Pope Leo I (“the Great”)
  • Damasus  – pope; active in suppressing heresy
  • Apollinaris of Laodicea  – Bishop of Laodicea; close friend of Athanasias; vigorous advocate of orthodoxy against the Arians
  • Amphilochius of Iconium  – Bishop of Iconium; close friend of the Cappadocian Fathers; defended the full Divinity of the Holy Spirit

Fifth Century

  • Asterius of Amasea  – Arian theologian; some extant homilies on the Psalms attributed to him
  • Evagrius Ponticus  – spiritual writer; noted preacher at Constantinople; spent the last third of his life living a monastic life in the desert
  • Isidore of Pelusium  – an ascetic and exegete; his extant correspondence contains much of doctrinal, exegetical, and moral interest
  • Cyril of Alexandria  – Patriarch of Alexandria; contested Nestorius; put into systematic form the classical Greek doctrines of the Trinity and of the Person of Christ
  • Maximus of Turin  – Bishop of Turin; over 100 of his sermons survive
  • Cassion (prob. Cassian)  – one of the great leaders of Eastern Christian monasticism; founded two monasteries near Marseilles; best known books the Institutes and the Conferences
  • Chrysologus  – Bishop of Ravenna; a “Doctor of the Church”
  • Basil “the Great”  – one of the “Cappadocian Fathers”; Bishop of Caesarea; responsible for the Arian controversy’s being put to rest at the Council of Constantinople
  • Theodotus of Ancyra  – Bishop of Ancyra; wrote against the teaching of Nestorius
  • Leo the Great  – Pope who significantly consolidated the influence of the Roman see; a “Doctor of the Church”; his legates defended Christological orthodoxy at the Council of Chalcedon
  • Gennadius  – Patriarch of Constantinople; the author of many commentaries, notably on Genesis, Daniel, and the Pauline Epistles
  • Victor of Antioch  – presbyter of Antioch; commentator and collector of earlier exegetical writings
  • Council of Ephesus  – declared the teachings of Nestorious heretical, affirming instead the unity between Christ’s human and divine natures
  • Nilus  – Bishop of Ancyra; disciple of St John Chrysostom; founder of a monastery; conducted a large correspondence influencing his contemporaries; his writings deal mainly with ascetic and moral subjects

Sixth Century

  • Dionysius Areopagita  (aka Dionysius the Pseudo-Areopagite) – mystical theologian; combined Neoplatonism with Christianity; the aim of all his works is the union of the whole created order with God
  • Gregory the Great  – Pope; a “Doctor of the Church”; very prolific writer of works on practical theology, pastoral life, expositions of Job, sermons on the Gospels, etc.
  • Isidore  – Bishop of Seville; a “Doctor of the Church”; concerned with monastic discipline, clerical education, liturgical uniformity, conversion of the Jews; helped secure Western acceptance of Filioque clause
  • Eutychius (Patriarch of Constan­tinople)  – consecrated the church of Hagia Sophia in Constantinople; defended the Chalcedonian faith against an unorthodox sect; became controversial later in life
  • Isaac (Bp. of Nineveh)  (aka Isaac the Syrian) – monastic writer on ascetic subjects
  • Severus (Bp. of Antioch)  – Syrian Orthodox Patriarch of Antioch; the leading theologian of the moderate Monophysites
  • John Climacus  – ascetic and writer on the spiritual life; later Abbot of Mt. Sinai; best known for his Ladder of Divine Ascent which treats of the monastic virtues and vices
  • Fulgentius  – Bishop of Ruspe in N. Africa; scholarly disposition; follower of St. Augustine; wrote many treatises against Arianism and Pelagianism

Seventh Century

  • Maximus ( of Constantinople, 645.)  – Greek theologian; prolific writer on doctrinal, ascetical, exegetical, and liturgical subjects

Eighth Century

  • Bede (131CESK) – “the Venerable Bede”; a “Doctor of the Church”; pedagogue, biblical exegete, hagiographer, and historian, the most influential scholar from Anglo-Saxon England
  • John Damascene  – Greek theologian; a “Doctor of the Church”; defender of images in the Iconoclastic Controversy; expounded the doctrine of the perichoresis (circumincession) of the Persons of the Trinity
  • Alcuin  – Abbot of St. Martin’s (Tours); a major contributor to the Carolingian Renaissance; supervised the production of several complete editions of the Bible; responsible for full acceptance of the Vulgate in the West

Ninth Century

  • Haymo (of Halberstadt)  – German Benedictine monk who became bishop of Halberstadt; prolific writer
  • Photius (of Constantinople)  – Patriarch of Constantinople; a scholar of wide interests and encyclopedic knowledge; his most important work, Bibliotheca, is a description of several hundred books (many now lost), with analyses and extracts; also wrote a Lexicon
  • Rabanus Maurus  – Abbot of Fulda in Hess Nassau; later Archbishop of Mainz; wrote commentaries on nearly every Book of the Bible
  • Remigius (of Auxerre)  – monk, scholar, and teacher
  • Paschasius Radbertus  – Carolingian theologian; wrote commentaries on Lamentations and Matthew, as well as the first doctrinal monograph on the Eucharist, he maintained the real Presence of Christ

Eleventh Century

  • Theophylact  – Byzantine exegete; his principal work, a series of commentaries on several OT books and on the whole of the NT except Revelation, is marked by lucidity of thought and expression and closely follows the scriptural text
  • Anselm  – Archbishop of Canterbury; a “Doctor of the Church”; highly regarded teacher and spiritual director; famous ontological argument for the existence of God as “that than which nothing greater can be thought”
  • Petrus Alphonsus  – Jewish Spanish writer and astronomer, a convert to Christianity; one of the most important figures in anti-Judaic polemics
  • Laufranc (prob. Lanfranc)  – Archbishop of Canterbury; commented on the Psalms and Pauline Epistles; his biblical commentary passed into the Glossa Ordinaria
Click on banner above to show/hide an annotated list of the Church Fathers that Aquinas compiled in his multi-volume commentary of the Gospels.

Matthew 16:22-23

22. Then Peter took him, and began to rebuke him, saying, Be it far from thee, Lord: this shall not be unto thee.

23. But he turned, and said unto Peter, Get thee behind me, Satan: thou art an offence unto me: for thou savourest not the things that be of God, but those that be of men.

ORIGEN. While Christ was yet speaking the beginnings of the things which He was shewing unto them, Peter considered them unworthy of the Son of the living God. And forgetting that the Son of the living God does nothing, and acts in no way worthy of blame, he began to rebuke Him; and this is what is said, And Peter took him, and began to rebuke him.

JEROME. We have often said that Peter had too hot a zeal, and a very great affection towards the Lord the Saviour. Therefore after that his confession, and the reward of which he had heard from the Saviour, he would not have that his confession destroyed, and thought it impossible that the Son of God could be put to death, but takes Him to him affectionately, or takes Him aside that he may not seem to be rebuking his Master in the presence of his fellow disciples, and begins to chide Him with the feeling of one that loved Him, and to contradict Him, and say, Be it far from thee, Lord; or as it is better in the Greek, ἵλεώς σοι Κύριε, οὐ μὴ ἔσται σοι τοῦτο, that is, Be propitious to Thyself, Lord, this shall not be unto Thee.

ORIGEN. As though Christ Himself had needed a propitiation. His affection Christ allows, but charges him with ignorance; as it follows, He turned and said unto Peter, Get thee behind me, Satan, thou art an offence unto me.

HILARY. The Lord, knowing the suggestion of the craft of the devil, says to Peter, Get thee behind me; that is, that he should follow the example of His passion; but to him by whom this expression was suggested, He turns and says, Satan, thou art an offence unto me. For we cannot suppose that the name of Satan, and the sin of being an offence, would be imputed to Peter after those so great declarations of blessedness and power that had been granted him.

JEROME. But to me this error of the Apostle, proceeding from the warmth of his affection, will never seem a suggestion of the devil. Let the thoughtful reader consider that that blessedness of power was promised to Peter in time to come, not given him at the time present; had it been conveyed to him immediately, the error of a false confession would never have found place in him.

CHRYSOSTOM. For what wonder is it that this should befal Peter, who had never received a revelation concerning these things? For that you may learn that that confession which he made concerning Christ was not spoken of himself, observe how in these things which had not been revealed to him, he is at a loss. Estimating the things of Christ by human and earthly principles, he judged it mean and unworthy of Him that He should suffer. Therefore the Lord added, For thou savourest not the things that be of God, but the things that be of men.

JEROME. As much as to say; It is of My will, and of the Father’s will, that I should die for the salvation of men; you considering only your own will would not that the grain of wheat should fall into the ground, that it may bring forth much fruit; therefore as you speak what is opposed to My will, you ought to be called My adversary. For Satan is interpreted ‘adverse’ or ‘contrary.’

ORIGEN. Yet the words in which Peter and those in which Satan are rebuked, are not, as is commonly thought, the same; to Peter it is said, Get thee behind me, Satan; that is, follow me, thou that art contrary to my will; to the Devil it is said, Go thy way, Satan, understanding not ‘behind me,’ but ‘into everlasting fire.’ He said therefore to Peter, Get thee behind me, as to one who through ignorance was ceasing to walk after Christ. And He called him Satan, as one, who through ignorance had somewhat contrary to God. But he is blessed to whom Christ turns, even though He turn in order to rebuke him. But why said He to Peter, Thou art an offence unto me, (Ps. 119:165.) when in the Psalm it is said, Great peace have they that love thy law, and there is no offence to them? It must be answered, that not only is Jesus not offended, but neither is any man who is perfect in the love of God; and yet he who does or speaks any thing of the nature of an offence, may be an offence even to one who is incapable of being offended. Or he may hold every disciple that sinneth as an offence, as Paul speaks, Who is offended, and I burn not?. (2 Cor. 11:29.)

16:24–25

24. Then said Jesus unto his disciples, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.

25. For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it.

CHRYSOSTOM. (Hom. lv.) Peter had said, Be it far from thee, Lord, this shall not be unto thee; and had been answered, Get thee behind me, Satan; but the Lord was not satisfied with this rebuke, but over and above desired to shew the impropriety of those things which Peter had said, and the fruit of His own passion; whence it is added, Then said Jesus to his disciples, If any man will to come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me; as much as to say, You say unto me, Be it far from thee; but I say unto you, that not only is it harmful for you to hinder Me from My Passion, but yourself will not be able to be saved unless you suffer and die, and renounce your life always. And note, that He does not speak of it as compulsory, for He does not say, Though ye will not yet must ye suffer this, but, If any man will. By saying this He rather attracted them; for he who leaves his auditor at liberty, attracts him the more; whereas he that uses violence oftentimes hinders him. And He proposes this doctrine, not to His disciples only, but in common to the whole world, saying, If any man will, that is, if woman, if man, if king, if free, if slave; there are three things mentioned; let him deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me.

GREGORY. (Hom. in Ev. xxxii. 2.) For unless a man departs from himself, he does not draw near to Him who is above him. But if we leave ourselves, whither shall we go out of ourselves? Or if we have forsaken ourselves, who is it then that goes? Indeed, we are one thing when fallen by sin, another thing as we were made by nature. It is therefore then that we leave and deny ourselves, when we avoid that which we were of old, and strive towards that to which we are called in newness.

GREGORY. (in Ezech. Hom. i. 10.) He denies himself whosoever is changed for the better, and begins to be what he was not, and ceases to be what he was.

GREGORY. (Mor. xxxiii. 6.) He also denies himself, who having trode under foot the risings of pride, shews himself in the eyes of God to be estranged from himself.

ORIGEN. But though a man may seem to keep from sin, yet if he does not believe in the cross of Christ, he cannot be said to be crucified with Christ; whence it follows, And take up his cross.

CHRYSOSTOM. Otherwise; He that disowns another, whether a brother, or a servant, or whosoever it be, he may see him beaten, or suffering aught else, and neither succours nor befriends him; thus it is he would have us deny our body, and whether it be beaten or afflicted in any other way, not to spare it. For this is to spare. So parents do then most spare their children when they hand them over to tutors, bidding them not to spare them. And that you should not think that this denial of self extends only to words or affronts, he shews to what degree we should deny ourselves, namely, to death the most shameful, even that of the cross; this He signifies when He says, And take up his cross, and follow me.

HILARY. We are to follow our Lord by taking up the cross of His passion; and if not in deed, yet in will, hear Him company.

CHRYSOSTOM. And because malefactors often suffer grievous things, that you should not suppose that simply to suffer evil is enough, He adds the reason of suffering, when He says, And follow me. For His sake you are to endure all, and to learn His other virtues; for this is to follow Christ aright, to be diligent in the practice of virtues, and to suffer all things for His sake.

GREGORY. (Hom. in Ev. xxxii. 3.) There are two ways of taking our cross; when the body is afflicted by abstinence, or when the heart is pained by compassion for another. Forasmuch as our very virtues are beset with faults, we must declare that vainglory sometimes attends abstinence of flesh, for the emaciated body and pale countenance betray this high virtue to the praise of the world. Compassion again is sometimes attended by a false affection, which is hereby led to be consenting unto sin; to shut out these, He adds, and follow me.

JEROME. Otherwise; He takes up his cross who is crucified to the world; and he to whom the world is crucified, follows his crucified Lord.

CHRYSOSTOM. And then because this seemed severe, He softens it by shewing the abundant rewards of our pains, and the punishment of evil, He that will save his life shall lose it.

ORIGEN. This may be understood in two ways. First thus; if any lover of this present life spares his life, fearing to die, and supposing that his life is ended with this death; he seeking in this way to save his life, shall lose it, estranging it from life eternal. But if any, despising the present life, shall contend for the truth unto death, he shall lose his life as far as this present life is concerned, but forasmuch as he loses it for Christ, he shall the more save it for life eternal. Otherwise thus; if any understand what is true salvation, and desire to obtain it for the salvation of his own life, he by denying himself loses his life as to the enjoyments of the flesh, but saves it by works of piety. He shews by saying. For he that will, that this passage must be connected in sense with that which went before. If then we understand the first, Let him deny himself, of the death of the body, we must take this that follows of death only; but if we understand the first of mortifying the propensities of the flesh, then, to lose his life, signifies to give up carnal pleasures.

16:26–28

26. For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?

27. For the Son of man shall come in the glory of his Father with his angels; and then he shall reward every man according to his works.

28. Verily I say unto you. There be some standing here, which shall not taste of death, till they see the Son of man coming in his kingdom.

CHRYSOSTOM. Because He had said, Whoso will save, shall lose, and whoso will lose shall save, opposing saving to losing, that none should hence conclude that there was any equality between the losing on one side, and the saving on the other, He adds, What does it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, but suffer the loss of his soul? As though He had said, Say not that he who escapes the dangers which threaten him for Christ’s sake, saves his soul, that is, his temporal life; but add to his temporal life the whole world, and what of all these things will profit a man if his soul perishes for ever? Suppose you should see all your servants in joy, and yourself placed in the greatest evils, what profit would you reap from being their master? Think over this within your own soul, when by the indulgence of the flesh that soul looks for its own destruction,

ORIGEN. I suppose also that he gains the world who does not deny himself, nor loses Ms own life as to carnal pleasures, and thence suffers the loss of his soul. These two things being set before us, we must rather choose to lose the world, and gain our souls.

CHRYSOSTOM. But if you should reign over the whole world, you would not be able to buy your soul; whence it follows, Or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul? As much as to say, if you lose goods, you may have it in your power to give other goods to recover them; but if you lose your soul, you can neither give another soul, nor any thing else in ransom for it. And what marvel is it if this happen in the soul, when we see the same happen in the body; for if you should surround a body afflicted with an incurable disease with ten thousand diadems, they would not heal it.

ORIGEN. And at first sight indeed the ransom of the soul might be supposed to be in his substance, that a man should give his substance to the poor, and so should save his soul. But I suppose that a man has nothing that giving as a ransom for his soul he should deliver it from death. God gave the ransom for the souls of men, namely the precious blood of His Son.

GREGORY. (Hom. in Ev. xxxii. 4.) Or the connexion may be thus; The Holy Church has a period of persecution, and a period of peace; and our Redeemer accordingly distinguishes between these periods in His commands; in time of persecution the life is to be laid down; but in time of peace, those earthly lusts which might gain too great power over us are to be broken through; whence He says, What does it profit a man?

JEROME. Having thus called upon His disciples to deny themselves and take up their cross, the hearers were filled with great terror, therefore these severe tidings are followed by more joyful; For the Son of Man shall come in the glory of his Father with the holy Angels. Dost thou fear death? Hear the glory of the triumph. Dost thou dread the cross? Hear the attendance of the Angels.

ORIGEN. As much as to say; The Son of Man is now come, but not in glory; for He ought not to have been ordained in His glory to bear our sins; but then He shall come in His glory, when He shall first have made ready His disciples, being made as they are, that He might make them as He is Himself, in the likeness of His glory.

CHRYSOSTOM. He said not in such glory as is that of the Father, that you might not suppose a difference of glory, but He says, The glory of the Father, that it might be shewn to be the same glory. But if the glory is one, it is evident that the substance is one. What then fearest thou, Peter, hearing of death? For then shalt thou see Me in glory. But if I be in glory, so also shall ye be. But in making mention of His glory, He mingleth therewith things terrible, bringing forward the judgment, as it follows, And then shall he render to each man according to his works.

JEROME. For there is no difference of Jew or Gentile, man or woman, poor or rich, whore not persons but works are accepted.

CHRYSOSTOM. This He said to call to their minds not only the punishment of sinners, but the prizes and crowns of the righteous.

JEROME. But the secret thought of the Apostles might have suffered an offence of this sort; The killings and deaths you speak of as to be now, but the promise of your coming in glory is put off to a long distant time. He that knows secret things therefore, seeing that they might object this, requites a present fear with a present reward, saying, Verily I say unto you, There be some of those standing here that shall not taste death until the Son of Man come in his kingdom.

CHRYSOSTOM. (Hom. lvi.) Willing to shew what is that glory in which He shall come hereafter, He revealed it to them in this present life, so far as it was possible for them to receive it, that they might not have sorrow in their Lord’s death.

REMIGIUS. What is here said, therefore, was fulfilled in the three disciples to whom the Lord, when transfigured in the mount, shewed the joys of the eternal inheritance; (vid. Bed. in Luc. 9:27.) these saw Him coming in His kingdom, that is, shining in His effulgent radiance, in which, after the judgment passed, He shall be beheld by all the saints.

CHRYSOSTOM. Therefore He does not reveal the names of those who should ascend into the mount, because the rest would be very desirous to accompany them whither they might look upon the pattern of His glory, and would be grieved as though they were passed over.

GREGORY. (ubi sup.) Or, by the kingdom of God is meant the present Church, and because some of His disciples were to live so long in the body as to behold the Church of God built up and raised against the glory of this world, this comfortable promise is given them, There be some of them standing here.

ORIGEN. Morally; To those who are nearly brought to the faith, the Word of God wears the form of a servant; but to those that are perfect, He comes in the glory of the Father. His angels are the words of the Prophets, which it is not possible to comprehend spiritually, until the word of Christ has been first spiritually comprehended, and then will their words be seen in like majesty with His. Then will He give of His own glory to every man according to his deeds; for the better each man is in his deeds, so much the more spiritually does he understand Christ and His Prophets. They that stand where Jesus stands, are they that have the foundations of their souls rested upon Jesus; of whom such as stood firmest are said not to taste death till they see the Word of God; which comes in His kingdom when they see that excellence of God which they cannot see while they are involved in divers sins, which is to taste death, forasmuch as the soul that sinneth, dies. For as life, and the living bread, is He that came down from heaven, so His enemy death is the bread of death. And of these breads there are some that eat but a little, just tasting them, while some eat more abundantly. They that sin neither often, nor greatly, these only taste death; they that have partaken more perfectly of spiritual virtue do not taste it only, but feed ever on the living bread. That He says, Until they see, does not fix any time at which shall be done what had not been done before, but mentions just what is necessary; for he that once sees Him in His glory, shall after that by no means taste death.

RABANUS. (e Bed. in Luc. 9.) It is of the saints He speaks as tasting death, by whom the death of the body is tasted just as it were sipping, while the life of the soul is, held fast in possession.

SOURCE: eCatholic 2000

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Catechism Excerpts

Homiletic Directory

“By using the Catechism of the Catholic Church, the homilist can help his people integrate the word of God, the faith of the Church, the moral demands of the Gospel, and their personal and liturgical spirituality.” From the Homiletic Directory

CCC 618: Christ calls his disciples to take up the Cross and follow him
CCC 555, 1460, 2100: the Cross as the way to Christ’s glory
CCC 2015: way to perfection by way of the Cross
CCC 2427: carrying our cross in daily life

Christ calls his disciples to take up the Cross and follow him

618 The cross is the unique sacrifice of Christ, the “one mediator between God and men”.452 But because in his incarnate divine person he has in some way united himself to every man, “the possibility of being made partners, in a way known to God, in the paschal mystery” is offered to all men.453 He calls his disciples to “take up [their] cross and follow [him]”,454 for “Christ also suffered for [us], leaving [us] an example so that [we] should follow in his steps.”455 In fact Jesus desires to associate with his redeeming sacrifice those who were to be its first beneficiaries.456 This is achieved supremely in the case of his mother, who was associated more intimately than any other person in the mystery of his redemptive suffering.457

Apart from the cross there is no other ladder by which we may get to heaven.458

The Cross as the way to Christ’s glory

544 The kingdom belongs to the poor and lowly, which means those who have accepted it with humble hearts. Jesus is sent to “preach good news to the poor”;253 he declares them blessed, for “theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”254 To them – the “little ones” the Father is pleased to reveal what remains hidden from the wise and the learned.255 Jesus shares the life of the poor, from the cradle to the cross; he experiences hunger, thirst and privation.256 Jesus identifies himself with the poor of every kind and makes active love toward them the condition for entering his kingdom.257

1460 The penance the confessor imposes must take into account the penitent’s personal situation and must seek his spiritual good. It must correspond as far as possible with the gravity and nature of the sins committed. It can consist of prayer, an offering, works of mercy, service of neighbor, voluntary self-denial, sacrifices, and above all the patient acceptance of the cross we must bear. Such penances help configure us to Christ, who alone expiated our sins once for all. They allow us to become co-heirs with the risen Christ, “provided we suffer with him.”63

The satisfaction that we make for our sins, however, is not so much ours as though it were not done through Jesus Christ. We who can do nothing ourselves, as if just by ourselves, can do all things with the cooperation of “him who strengthens” us. Thus man has nothing of which to boast, but all our boasting is in Christ . . . in whom we make satisfaction by bringing forth “fruits that befit repentance.” These fruits have their efficacy from him, by him they are offered to the Father, and through him they are accepted by the Father. 

2100 Outward sacrifice, to be genuine, must be the expression of spiritual sacrifice: “The sacrifice acceptable to God is a broken spirit. . . . “17 The prophets of the Old Covenant often denounced sacrifices that were not from the heart or not coupled with love of neighbor.18 Jesus recalls the words of the prophet Hosea: “I desire mercy, and not sacrifice.”19 The only perfect sacrifice is the one that Christ offered on the cross as a total offering to the Father’s love and for our salvation.20 By uniting ourselves with his sacrifice we can make our lives a sacrifice to God.


Way to perfection by way of the Cross

2015 The way of perfection passes by way of the Cross. There is no holiness without renunciation and spiritual battle.68 Spiritual progress entails the ascesis and mortification that gradually lead to living in the peace and joy of the Beatitudes:

He who climbs never stops going from beginning to beginning, through beginnings that have no end. He never stops desiring what he already knows.69


Carrying our cross in daily life

2427 Human work proceeds directly from persons created in the image of God and called to prolong the work of creation by subduing the earth, both with and for one another.210 Hence work is a duty: “If any one will not work, let him not eat.”211 Work honors the Creator’s gifts and the talents received from him. It can also be redemptive. By enduring the hardship of work212 in union with Jesus, the carpenter of Nazareth and the one crucified on Calvary, man collaborates in a certain fashion with the Son of God in his redemptive work. He shows himself to be a disciple of Christ by carrying the cross, daily, in the work he is called to accomplish.213 Work can be a means of sanctification and a way of animating earthly realities with the Spirit of Christ.


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