August 7, 2008
Thursday of the Eighteenth Week in Ordinary Time
Matthew 16: 13-23
Now when Jesus came into the district of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, "Who do people say that the Son of Man is?" And they said, "Some say John the Baptist, but others Elijah, and still others Jeremiah or one of the prophets." He said to them, "But who do you say that I am?" Simon Peter answered, "You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God." And Jesus answered him, "Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father in heaven. And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my Church, and the gates of Hades will not prevail against it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven." Then he sternly ordered the disciples not to tell anyone that he was the Messiah. 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. 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."
Introductory Prayer: Lord, increase my faith to accept you as you are. I believe you are the Messiah, and I believe you will give your life for me. I hope in your cross and in your resurrection. I want to love what you love, nothing more and nothing less.
Petition: Lord, grant me the grace to accept you in your entirety.
1. The Cross vs. the Crucifix Jesus tells us of his upcoming passion and death. His reason for coming among us is approaching its fulfillment. The empty cross will soon hold the crucified savior. Christians are called to look upon our crucified Lord, not at an empty cross. We are to partake in the cross of Christ. Once I took one of my non-Catholic friends to Church with me. We walked into the side chapel where a bloody crucifix hung from the wall. I had become quite accustomed to it, but she looked at the crucifix and said, “That is gross. Why do you have Christ hung on the cross?” Yet, this is the story of Christ’s life: He must go to Jerusalem, undergo great suffering, be killed, and on the third day be raised. In order to rise, he first had to be crucified. Will I be able to join him on the cross so that I, too, may rise with him?
2. The Winning Team This Gospel tells us that Christ holds the keys to victory. He is the winner. He wants us to be on his team – and doesn’t everyone want to be on a winning team? He has laid out the game plan. He put the authority to bind and loose in Peter’s and his successors’ hands. All we have to do to win is conquer evil with good every day. We have to put on the new man of virtue, replacing the old man of vice. While we are on this earth we have to suffer in one of two ways: We can suffer the shameful consequences of defeat at the hand of our personal sins; or we can suffer the joyful consequences of overcoming our sensual and vain tendencies. Choose the winning team!
3. Love and Truth Christ loves Peter so much that he can’t help but tell him the truth. It is like our parents’ love for us: They love us so much they correct all our errors in order to make us better. Peter often responds to Christ with human wisdom instead of reaching out to the divine. How often are our endeavors hampered by human calculations? How often, because we do not see things clearly, do we hold back when we sense the Holy Spirit calling? Trusting in Christ and practicing the virtues often go against the current, but it is these manifestations of love that change hearts.
Conversation with Christ: Lord Jesus, help me to see the beauty of your ways. Your wisdom will set me free. You are the savior of the world. Guide me along the path to your heart.
Resolution: Today I will find the sin I commit the most and replace it with the corresponding virtue.
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