Reflection and Prayer for Eleventh Sunday after Trinity – 31st August 2014 (Proper 17)

This material was first published by Redemptorist Publications
and is included here with their permission.

Matthew 16.21-28
Suffering leading to glory

Peter still thinks of God’s Messiah as an earthly king who will bring in a kingdom of God’s justice and peace. For him it is unthinkable that such a king should suffer and die at the hands of those in authority. With his usual vehemence Peter protests that no harm must come to Jesus.

How wrong Peter was and yet it still seems to us entirely the wrong way round for Jesus to be arrested, tortured and killed. In Peter’s place would we not have made the same protestation only to be met with the same rebuke “Get behind me Satan”? But we live 2000 years after these events and perhaps our perspective is different.

When our hearts are stirred by Jesus’ call to repent; when we are touched by his miracles of healing and our minds challenged by his teaching are we not seeing for ourselves what love and goodness look like in human form? When we are shocked and angered by the travesty of justice that is his trial and when we turn away from the sight of his body on the cross are we not recoiling from the evil that humans can do to each other? While we can say, like Peter, “Lord, this should never have happened to you, prevent us from doing it again” then surely we are repenting, taking up our cross to follow Jesus, setting our minds on divine things and losing our life in order to find it in all its fullness.

Lord Jesus, help us to take up our cross each day to follow you knowing that the road will often lead to suffering and pain. Give us your strength and courage to resist the temptation to take an easier path and be with us along the way.  Amen.