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22nd Sunday of Ordinary Time 2014
Cycle A

First Reading
Jeremiah 20:7-9

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, violence 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.

Second Reading
Romans 12:1-2

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.

Gospel Cycle A
Matthew 16:21-27

Jesus began to show his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer greatly from the elders, the chief priests, 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 his life? Or what can one give in exchange for his life? For the Son of Man will come with his angels in his Father's glory, and then he will repay all according to his conduct."

My sisters and brothers in Christ,

Has God possessed you? Do you sense His presence in your life right now? How has God worked in your life? The first reading today, from the Prophet Jeremiah, recounts the experience of Jeremiah with God. Perhaps at times we have known this presence of God, impelling us to do things that we would not have done without His presence impelling us. If God's presence does not affect our lives in some way, then we should question our relationship with God.

We see the same thing in the Gospel today, from Saint Matthew. Peter is convinced that he must counsel Jesus to be careful and not let bad things happen to Him. Jesus rebukes Peter for this counsel. Instead, Jesus counsels Peter to take up his cross daily and accept the bad things that happen.

The lesson for us is clear: life is not about avoiding bad things. Neither is life about seeking bad things. Life is about living for the love of God because Jesus is our Lord and Master. If we follow Him and try to live as He invites us to live, we will surely meet up with suffering and difficulties. We must accept these sufferings and difficulties because we love the Lord and see that they are the way we must live for the sake of the Kingdom.

We live for the sake of Christ. We take up sufferings and difficult tasks for the sake of Christ. It is all about loving God, loving one another and loving ourselves. Once we accept Jesus Christ and commit ourselves to living in Him and for Him, life takes on a wonderful sense of joy and gladness because we are walking with Him and seeking only to do His will.

The Letter to the Romans today reminds us that life is about discerning what is the will of God, what is good and pleasing and perfect in God. At first, this living in God may seem strange and even at times inhuman. After we begin to live in the way of Christ, we come to recognize that we are indeed more fully alive because of living in Him and seeking His will.

And, yes, we will meet up with mockery and rejection from others at times, but we can accept this because we know the love of Jesus Christ. Blessed be God forever.