August 25, 2020
Each and all of us feel important and so no one wants to be alone. All of us want to belong. Our human nature is not so much personal as it is collective. Today’s Scriptural readings and statements push this idea. “Fear is exclusive. Belonging is inclusive.” (Anthony Chezzi, commentary in Living with Christ missalette for this Sunday).
This is a very different approach to our culture today which pushes us to narcissistic individualism where the individual is Number One and far above all else. God’s Nature by Nature is always social and calls us to be the same.
Jeremiah in today’s First Reading has been called to be God’s Prophet to the Jewish people. This is very difficult and so he suffers an interior crisis in this regard. However, he needs to pursue this because his soul thirsts for God. “Jeremiah would prefer to be a Prophet of happiness, but instead he has been chosen to deliver a message of conflict rather than of consolation” (Saint Joseph Liturgical Bible). He really experiences the crushing weight of his missionary calling!
Jeremiah needs to pursue this missionary calling because of his thirst for God that is so deep and the Responsorial Psalm shows and describes this need very well.
The short Second Reading from Romans puts forth the call for our spiritual worship of God manifested by offering our bodies as a living sacrifice to God manifesting God’s will to us. And how can we appear before God if the rest of the time we do the opposite of what God demands? And do keep remembering that throughout the Bible God tells us clearly He/She desires mercy and not sacrifice. So, very clearly, going to Mass involves not only receiving Christ in Communion but also following God’s will for us.
The Gospel Acclamation from the Letter to the Ephesians proclaims that we are to know the hope to which God calls us – a good introduction to the Gospel.
The Gospel from Matthew shows Christ’s vocation as the son of God dying and rising for the human race. Peter vociferously challenges this and Christ goes on to strongly underline His vocation to the Cross and Resurrection. And then Christ extends an unexpected invitation for His disciples (including ourselves) to make His vocation our vocation. This must have made the disciples speechless! And if this does not make us speechless, then we have not really heard what Christ says to us today! Living out our vocation here is the “blessing of salvation” (see the “Prayer Over the Offerings”).
One last thing about the Gospel. Note how strong its language is! Consider the following: “Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me” and “for what will it profit anyone to gain the whole world but forfeit their life?” Peter in this Gospel and among all this strong language becomes the Vicar of Christ and then immediately turns into the Vicar of Satan!
Preface I of Sundays in Ordinary Time should be used today because it really spells out our vocation (see also the “Prayer After Communion” where this is spelled out again).
The Church’s liturgies, especially the Sunday ones, manifest what the Church is aiming to be in the history of the world; the liturgies are the revealed images that we aim to become and that we need to materialize. Everyone of us is called to make this our reality; this is not the vocation of just the clergy or anyone’s particular job. IT IS THE VOCATION OF ALL OF US!
In the Church, the “divine” and holy aspects of the Church are truly present in It. But so are “human” and ordinary every-day elements. We need to realize that these elements are always with us. And all Catholics have a present vocation to decrease the “human” and increase the “divine/holiness.” This is what Vatican II was all about 50 years ago.
Today’s Church is afflicted with a few scandals that hinder the spread of the Gospel. The main scandal in this category is that of sexual abuse. Because the Risen One and the Holy Spirit are in the Church, the Church and Its presence of holiness will not be destroyed.
“Witnessing the…weakness of the Church, many are scandalized and a good number have left the Church…Failure is compatible with the Kingdom of God.” (Saint Joseph Liturgical Bible) We all need to work to change this! O Risen Lord, please help us to change this. Amen!
May the Risen Lord keep each and all of us very close to Him. Amen!
Father Fred Scinto, C.R.