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This Weekend's Gospel Meditation

Sep 14, 2018

Sunday - September 16, 2018 - Twenty-fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time

We know the signs of defeat: slumped shoulders, downcast eyes, a chastened demeanor. For those of us sincerely trying to follow Jesus, defeat is inevitable. We commit to spending more time with our kids, but that one project still looms. We resolve to be a good person, but our selfishness strikes again. It can be easy to get discouraged over our moral failures. Today's Gospel is a small, intriguing look at this process in the life of St. Peter.

First, Jesus' questions get the Apostles thinking about his true identity. This results in a confession of faith from Peter: "You are the Christ." Eager faith characterizes Peter's relationship with Jesus. First to follow, first to leap out of the boat, and, we know, first to deny. It's the latter tendency that manifests itself later in the Gospel. When Jesus predicts the Passion, "Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him." Jesus' rebuke in turn is stinging. While Peter's caution to Jesus is in private, Jesus intentionally turns back to the others as he declares, "Get behind me, Satan. You are thinking not as God does, but as human beings do."

Like Peter, we rarely get it right all the time. Peter understood that Jesus was the Messiah, but he had a false concept of what that Messiah would accomplish. Jesus wants to make sure the rest of the disciples don't follow down the wrong road. The Christian life is a difficult one, as Jesus later tells the crowds. "'Whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself.'" Yet the mercy of God is abundant. If we renew our trust and our efforts after a fall, every defeat is transformed into redemptive grace. "Whoever loses his life for my sake ... will save it."

Courtesy of Liturgical Publications


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