22nd Sunday in Ordinary Time

Today’s Gospel may not be a comfortable one for us. It presents a challenge to take up the cross, to take up a cross for the sake of the Good News and not to be like Peter, a block to the preaching of the Gospel. Jesus tried to teach his disciples what the way of discipleship meant; a path that can have many challenges and stumbling blocks where even Peter stumbles and falls. Peter the chosen one, found it hard to accept that the path of discipleship would involve the cross, and we can also find it hard to cope with that at times. Peter finds it hard to be the loyal friend when faced with the pain and hopelessness of the cross that Jesus tells them awaits those who follow him.

“Whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself/herself, take up their cross, and follow me”.

Many of us are fortunate to have good friends, with whom we can be totally at ease. We can welcome the challenges they offer us as well as the support and hope that comes from being able to trust another person. The Gospel also offers us challenge and hope for our journey through life. Today’s Gospel does not offer any easy solutions in our relationship with Jesus. It challenges us out of the despondency which we can fall into when faced with suffering. We can walk with suffering or fall down under it. Neither way is easy. A challenge for us might be to learn from our suffering and to treat it like a friend, to learn from it and not fall down or be totally self-absorbed by it. For Jesus, the cross meant death and he did not turn back, and so the Resurrection happened.

If we look around our world we can see people who are following the path of Jesus and from whom we can learn so much – people suffering under oppressive regimes, people driven from their homeland because of some sort of greed on the part of others, our brothers and sisters who have financial difficulties or who are homeless, advocates who work tirelessly to help us understand the need to care for our earth, parents who love unconditionally, and our friends who are always there for us. We are invited to dedicate our lives to totally loving and serving others even if we find this a challenge at times. Jesus is not inviting us to be miserable, we are invited to see life with the eyes of Jesus and think of others before we think of ourselves, to live lives of love.

To ponder on:

  • How do I typically react to suffering, doubts or challenges in my life? Is it something I try to avoid or confront?
  • What can I learn from Jesus’ perspective on suffering and how it can be transformative?
  • Can I give thanks for a moment in my life where I was in pain but found the transformative power of love through someone reaching out to me? Can I reach out and show this love to others?

Miriam Weir OP