Jesus is all things to all. He leads those who live for others and deny themselves. For they do not seek their own good, but the neighbor’s.
Peter is blessed. For in the first place, the Father, not flesh and blood, lets him know who Jesus is. In the second place, he will be the rock upon which Jesus will build his Church. But the blessed soon turns into a stumbling block. And he and the others disciples will have to deny themselves.
For he still thinks not as God does, but as humans do. In other words, flesh and blood does not wholly yield to the Spirit. That is why the apostle does not grasp yet that one must die to live.
And what Jesus lays out before his disciples bears on him and on them. For he makes it clear that they will have to deny themselves to be his disciples. Besides, each of them will have to take up his or her cross and follow him.
But what Jesus says and will soon carry out goes against what flesh and blood seek. That is to say, we humans long for a life of ease and plenty. So, we do not like pains. We seek to stay safe and sound. And we do not want to suffer or to share in others’ sorrows.
Not a few of us even become like the rich fool who says to himself: “You have so many things stored up for many years; rest, eat, drink, be merry!” Or like the rich man who dresses up elegantly and dines sumptuously each day. At his door lies poor Lazarus for whom he cares not.
And our situation will turn out worse if we who do not care turn proud, greedy, unjust. Just so we can have our fill of good things. For this would mean to forfeit life and make it less human.
For Christ’s own, to deny themselves means to be men and women for others.
To find life, disciples have to lose it for Jesus’ sake. That is to say, they have to deny themselves to be at others’ beck and call (Comentarios al evangelio 4).
To lead a life of justice and peace, we should not seek just our own good or well-being. We have to let God’s mercy, made flesh in Jesus, to seduce us. The latter’s flesh is our food and his blood our drink. So that our flesh and our blood may have life and spirit, and we, too, can feed others. And get to leave the chapel to open the door to the poor, that is to say, to “leave God for God” (SV.EN IX:252).
Lord Jesus, grant that your disciples get to deny themselves and be men and women for others. Let them follow you and be like you, and know true life and bliss.
3 September 2023
22nd Sunday in O.T. (A)
Jer 20, 7-9; Rom 12, 1-2; Mt 16, 21-27