Christ himself is the fulfillment of God’s strongly expressed intent to do something new. Those who are one with Christ are the new creation.
Jesus shows that he must suffer greatly, die and then rise. Peter strongly disagrees and rebukes him. But who could blame Peter for it?
After all, he has left his nets and followed Jesus. Understandably, disciples do not want the disappointment that will come if the Teacher they have strongly and wholly trusted dies. Besides, Peter has learned to love Jesus. He would not want to hear any talk of death—of cruel death, much less—of a dear friend.
And so, Peter strongly and resoundingly says “no” to the idea of a suffering Messiah. But even more strongly and resoundingly does Jesus rebuke him: “Get behind me, Satan! You are an obstacle to me.” That is how necessary sufferings are for salvation.
Jesus highlights his strongly expressed intent to think as God does and to show us the new creation.
Jesus strongly insists on fostering God’s thoughts and ways. Even when the mission God has given him brings scorn, he does not turn back. Anyway, he cannot hold the Good News in. And so be it; the Good News is what makes the new creation spring forth.
The new creation hints at an upside down world. There, saving life means losing it, self-denial is self-fulfillment. Jesus, of course, shows us the truth of this teaching: his crucifixion means exaltation, and his shame is his glory. He himself is the certainty that the resurrection calls for passion and death.
And only those filled with such certainty are true disciples. They are the ones who strongly and faithfully agree with the message of the cross. It does not matter to them that the crucified Christ is a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles.
True Christians defy the wise, great and strong people of the world. So, they do not seek their own advantage but that of their neighbors. They do as the one who gave his body up and shed his blood for them. And so, they offer themselves for others as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God. They know quite well that “rarely is any good done without difficulty,” (SV.EN IV:361). In that way they take part in Christ’s saving work that is due “to the merits of his passion.”
Lord Jesus, make us recognize that there is no better place where we can be than at the foot of the cross (SV.EN I:155). May we strongly grasp that your cross is our only hope of salvation from lies, injustices and conflicts.
3 September 2017
22nd Sunday in O.T. (A)
Jer 20, 7-9; Rom 12, 1-2; Mt 16, 21-27