From the Pastor's Desk

What can I do to be received into the kingdom with open arms?

24th Sunday in Ordinary Time.

Today’s Gospel explains the basis of our Faith as our acceptance of Jesus as the Christ, the Son of the Living God and our Lord and Savior. It also tells us that Christ Jesus suffered, died and rose again to become our Savior. Finally, it outlines the three conditions of Christian discipleship, namely, denying oneself, taking up one’s cross, and following Jesus.

Jesus saw aspects of His own life and mission foreshadowed in Isaiah’s Servant Songs. Hence, a large portion of the Third Song of the Suffering Servant is presented as the first reading today, while in the Gospel, Jesus foretells the passion, death and Resurrection for the first time, in response to Peter’s profession of Faith in him as God’s Messiah and Savior. Like the servant described in today’s first reading, Jesus’ lived a life of radical obedience and conformity to God’s will. Thus, the Servant passage provides background for the revelation of Jesus as the suffering Messiah.

In today’s Responsorial Psalm (Ps 116), the Psalmist invites us to turn to the Lord for help amidst the trials of this world. It is in God that we will find deliverance from trouble and relief from our afflictions. (Ps 116).

Today’s second reading, taken from the Letter of James to the Church, reminds us that suffering is not only something to be accepted but also something to be alleviated. James explains how our Faith in Jesus, the Messiah, should help us to alleviate the sufferings of others by our works of mercy, both corporal and spiritual.

In the Gospel, in response to Peter’s profession of Faith in Jesus as God’s Messiah and Savior, Jesus foretells for the first of three times the passion, death and Resurrection which lie ahead. Today’s Gospel consists of two sections: 1) the Messianic confession of Peter, who acknowledged Jesus as “the Christ (Messiah), the Son of the living God.” and 2) Jesus’ prediction of the passion, death and Resurrection, followed by Jesus clear teaching on the three conditions of Christian discipleship: “Whoever wishes to come after Me must deny himself, take up his cross and follow Me.”

Life message

1) Jesus wants to become a living, present Reality for us, loving us, forgiving us, helping us, transforming our lives and outlook, and building a personal relationship with each of us. The knowledge of Jesus as Lord and personal Savior needs to become a living, personal experience for each Christian drawing each of us to loving response. The relationship deepens and grows as we listen to Jesus through the daily, meditative reading of the Bible, speak to Jesus in our daily, personal and family prayers, offer Jesus our lives on the altar in the Holy Mass and seek reconciliation with Jesus, asking forgiveness for our sins every night and in the Sacrament of Reconciliation. In the Eucharistic celebration today, we are celebrating and experiencing in our lives the death and Resurrection of Christ, the Messiah, our Lord and personal Savior.

2) We need to surrender our life to Jesus Whom we experience as our Lord and Savior: The next step is the surrender of our lives to Jesus Whose love we have experienced by rendering humble and loving service to others with the strong conviction that Jesus is present in every person. The final step is to praise and thank God in all the events of our lives, good and bad, realizing that God’s love shapes every event of our lives.

Fr. Gus. MS, Pastor