Jer 20: 7-9; Rom 12:1-2; Matt 16:21-27
We are very much influenced by advertisements to think that various products will make us happy. Like for example brand new cars, luxury clothes and jeans, new houses, cosmetics, foods, and others. Advertisements are very much successful in convincing large number of people to buy the products which, anyway, beyond their basic needs and also dangerous for their health and to their pocket as well. Many people spend their hard-earned money to buy cigarettes, hard liquor and beer which are also dangerous for their health too. Manufacturers of these products make billions of money as profits at the expense of the people. They think that this is an economic growth and yet leads people to their destruction. I don’t say this generally because there are so many who manufacture foods and services for the good of the people too.
In our gospel today, Jesus is also doing an advertisement. He is selling a product. The name of this product is Baseleia or the Kingdom of God. We can have this at the expense of Jesus because He suffered for this on the cross. He was crucified. How to acquire this as our own is through discipleship. There is only ingredient in order to become disciples, self-denial and it entails suffering. That is why Jesus said: “If a man wishes to come after me, he must deny his very self, take up his cross and begin to follow in my footstep. Whoever would save his life will lose it. But whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.”
Before, I am afraid when somebody asked me to speak in front of the people because my reason is: if I commit mistake in my speech, everybody will laugh at me. And yet when I try and start to speak even in small groups, I gained self-confidence and courage. Another, those who smoke cigarettes and drink beer are afraid to give up these habits because they are afraid that in the process their circle of friends will leave them one by one and yet when they give up these habits, they gain more years to add to their life’s span.
Thee common experiences should convince us that often we have to lose something to gain something better. It is no different with our relationship with the Lord who is our God. Even though it entails suffering, as we do so, Christ shows us how we gain peace, joy, fulfillment and satisfaction. So, whoever loses his/her life for my sake will find it.”
According to Fr. Wilfredo Pagiuo that suffering is a reality in life. Everyone must suffer. The problem is how to sweeten suffering and get the most of it. Pope John Paul II, in an apostolic letter entitled Salvifici Dolores talked on suffering:
1. Suffering is evil. Evil is the absence of good rooted in sin which can bring about death. This absence of good can cause greater suffering if the one who suffers thinks he/she does not deserve such suffering.
2. There are different kinds of suffering: physical, spiritual and psychological. There are also private sufferings like loneliness. And there common sufferings like those caused by epidemic, calamity and famine.
3. Suffering comes from the world. It does not come from God. Yet the one who suffers usually turns to God to ask on the causes and objectives of suffering.
4. Suffering can be a punishment arising from the justice of God. It can also be a test like how it was with Job. And God can also permit suffering in order that it can serve as a seed for holiness or greatness.
5. Our sufferings can also be joined with the sufferings of Christ for our salvation or for that of others. Not because Christ’s suffering are not enough. But because Christ has left this open to love so that the bitter sufferings of man mingled with this love may turn into a sweet spring which shall overflow into eternity.
Such were the sufferings of the martyrs of the Church. Such were the suffering of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Such were the sufferings of Christ. And such should be our sufferings.
See Today’s Readings: Cycle A