top of page

22nd Sunday in Ordinary Time (Ages 9-12): What Will They Give In Return For Their Life


Last week, we listened as Peter—a man with little faith—proclaims boldly that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of the living God. We listened as Jesus gives Peter—a human who makes many mistakes—the keys for building the Kingdom of God on earth. God acts through Peter's faith; God collaborates with Peter. This week, though, Peter acts on his own.

From that time on, Jesus began to show his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and undergo great suffering at the hands of the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised. 

In the Gospels, we often hear Jesus trying to explain the Plan of God to his disciples, but they never seem to get it. We have difficulty understanding why they do not get it, because we already know about the Resurrection. For us, the Resurrection is a fact that has already happened; it is an event we celebrate at Mass; it is our hope each day. We have difficulty, therefore, comprehending how mind-blowing the idea of life after death truly is. In any case, the disciples do not ever seem truly able to buy into the Plan.

And Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him, saying, “God forbid it, Lord! This must never happen to you.” But he turned and said to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; for you are setting your mind not on divine things but on human things.”

Whoa. Those are harsh words from Jesus. Peter must feel like Jesus slaps his face. "You just called me the Rock, Lord, and now you call me Satan?"

The word "satan" means "adversary"—someone we are in conflict with. An adversary is an opponent, but more than that, someone who works against us. Of course it is also the word for the Evil One, the one who works against God, the opposite of Love.

Jesus walks the road to Jerusalem where he will complete his mission to lay down his life. Why does he do that? His life is a gift from God to the world. Why, then, does he set about to end it?

what will they give in return for their life?

Jesus knows his life is a gift. What can he give God in return? What can he offer but the greatest thing he has: his life. Everything. He lays down his life, he offers his whole self in the greatest act of Love. It is the most complete act of Love because he is the Son of God who is Love. Jesus is completely Love.

Photo by Milada Vigerova on Unsplash

Jesus is also completely human, so is it easy for him to lay down his life? Probably not. How hard it must be for him, then, to hear his Rock say, "God forbid it! This must never happen to you." Peter makes it harder for him to offer himself to God. Peter sets his mind on human things while Jesus tries to keep his mind on the divine Plan. Peter stands in the way; Peter acts against Love.

Oh, dear. Do any of us want to find ourselves acting against Love?

Again Jesus tries to explain to the disciples—and to us—how the Plan works.

“If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me.

"If any want to become my followers..." Jesus reminds the disciples that God invites us to participate in the Plan. God would like to collaborate with us, but we have a choice.

"Let them deny themselves..." Deny is an interesting word that has several meanings. Most helpful for us, possibly, is the meaning, "to refuse to give or grant something." To deny ourselves is to refuse to give ourselves the driver's seat. It means to forbid ourselves to take over the control of our life. To forbid ourselves, not to forbid Jesus, not to forbid God's Plan for all people. We can see Peter's mistake now.

"Take up their cross..." Jesus does not tell us to take up his cross. He says, "their cross." His mission takes him to Jerusalem, to the tomb, and beyond. Our crosses—each of us has a different one. In Baptism, we are given a unique role to play in the building of the Kingdom. Each of us has been given a different mission as part of the Plan. It will take us to "the beyond," but it will look different for each of us.

"...and follow me." This is key, is it not? Jesus invites us to collaborate with God, not to act on our own. Jesus invites us to follow him, not to branch out on our own. Together with Jesus, we build the kingdom of God. Together with God, we write the history of tomorrow. We participate in the Plan of God.

God gives us this life and our own unique role to play in the Plan of God. God invites us to participate. What a gift! And so, Jesus' question rings in our ears,

what will they give in return for their life?

How will we respond?

20 views0 comments


bottom of page