You duped me, O Lord, and I let myself be duped; you were too strong for me, and you triumphed. All the day I am an object of laughter; everyone mocks me.
Whenever I speak, I must cry out, violent and outrage is my message; the word of the Lord has brought me derision and reproach all the day.
I say to myself, I will not mention Him, I will speak in His name no more. But then it becomes like fire burning in my heart, imprisoned in my bones; I grow weary holding it in, I cannot endure it.(P) The word of the Lord.
O God, you are my God whom I seek; for you my flesh pines and my soul thirsts like the Earth, parched, lifeless and without water. (R)
Thus have I gazed toward you in the sanctuary to see your power and your glory, for your kindness is a greater good than life; my lips shall glorify you. (R)
Thus will I bless you while I live; lifting up my hands, I will call upon your name. As with the riches of a banquet shall my soul be satisfied, and with exultant lips my mouth shall praise you. (R)
You are my help, and in the shadow of your wings I shout for joy. My soul clings fast to you; your right hand upholds me. (R)
I urge you, brothers and sisters, by the mercies of God, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God, your spiritual worship. Do not conform yourselves to this age but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and pleasing and perfect.(P) The word of the Lord.
Jesus began to show his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer greatly from the elders, the chief priest, and the scribes, and be killed and on the third day be raised. Then Peter took Jesus aside and began to rebuke him, "God forbid, Lord! No such thing shall ever happen to you." He turned and said to Peter, "Get behind me, Satan! You are an obstacle to me. You are thinking not as God does, but as human beings do."
Then Jesus said to his disciples, "Whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me. For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. What profit would there be for one to gain the whole world and forfeit one's life? Or what can one give in exchange for one's life? For the Son of Man will come with his angels in his Father's glory, and then he will repay everyone according to his conduct."(P) The Gospel of the Lord.
Today's gospel is a continuation of last Sunday's gospel, Matthew (16:13-20). It leads us to the time when Jesus had taken his disciples to the base of Mount Hermon at Caesarea Philippi. It was a place for ancient pagan gods and also the main source of the River Jordan. It was the setting for a very important conversation that took place between Jesus and his disciples. Up until this time, Jesus had been performing several roles: as prophet, reformer, healer, preacher and rabbi or teacher of the Law. Besides, Jesus often referred to Himself as the Son of Man.
So, Jesus questioned the disciples about what they and others thought of him. They answered that people believed He was a reincarnation of one of the ancient prophets, either Elijah or Jeremiah, or the last prophet, John the Baptist, whom Jesus considered to be the greatest of all of the prophets who had come before Him. But Simon confessed that Jesus was the Messiah or the Christ, the Son of the living God. Simon's confession showed that, perhaps, having known Jesus personally, he and the other disciples were starting to believe Jesus to be more than a man or a prophet. And Jesus, clearly pleased with Simon's understanding and faith, changed his name to "Peter" and further declared that he would be instrumental in establishing His Church. And at the same time, Jesus reminded him that the understanding behind it did not come from himself but by revelation from God the Father.
However, from today's gospel narrative, we realise that Peter seemed so near and yet was so far from understanding the nature of Jesus' messiahship, Matthew (16:21-27). Because, after instructing His disciples not to speak of him as the Messiah, Jesus continued to reveal more about what lay ahead of him. Specifically, He predicted His own rejection "by the elders, the chief priests, and the scribes, and be killed". But, Peter could not imagine the Messiah dying at the hands of his enemies. Like other Jews of the day, Peter was holding fast to God's promise of the one who would come with divine powers to deliver Israel from its enemies and establish a prosperous earthly kingdom.
So, he took Jesus aside to tell Him not to speak of such things and that God would not permit any harm to happen to Him. But the reality is that it was not God who was forbidding; it was Peter who was forbidding Jesus to do God's mission. It was almost like a disciple (Peter) telling his Master (Jesus) to follow him in his way of thinking. So, Jesus used the strongest language possible to rebuke Peter. He said, "Get behind me, Satan! You are an obstacle to me. You are thinking not as God does, but as human beings do", Matthew (16:23). Here, Peter acted as a tempter, a deceiver or an enemy of God's purpose. He tried to tempt Jesus to deviate from His divinely ordained mission of attaining glory through the way of the cross.
Jesus called Peter "Satan", and he did not stop there. He further made it clear that those who, like Peter, confess that He is the Messiah and wish to be His disciples should be willing to do so under three conditions:
After teaching His disciples about the need for them to pick up their cross daily in order to follow Him, Jesus drew their attention to the great options before them. He said, "For whoever wishes to save his life shall lose it; but whoever loses his life for My sake shall find it", Matthew (16:25). This choice leads a person, seeking to preserve his temporal life at the expense of his conscience by forsaking Christ and the Gospel, to lose his eternal life; while another seeking to forego all the pleasures, comforts and conveniences for the sake of Christ and the Gospel, to enjoy an immortal and eternal life.
Then Jesus posed two great questions to them. He asked, "What profit would there be for one to gain the whole world and forfeit one's life? Or what can one give in exchange for one's life", Matthew (16:26)? To gain the whole world is to receive all that the world has to offer - money, fame, pleasure, power, prestige, etc. To forfeit or lose one's life is to die without the right relationship with Christ and to spend an eternity in the fires of hell. Through this statement, Jesus was saying that no cost was too high to gain eternal life for one's soul or, to put in another way, there is nothing more valuable than one's life or soul. Having said that, Jesus then foretold that, in the end, the Son of Man, Jesus Christ, will come with all His angels and reward each person according to his deeds.
What is the message for us?
God Bless You!