I definitely felt I had “bitten off more than I could chew” after having agreed to write a reflection upon the Gospel for September 3, the 22nd Sunday in Ordinary time. Then “out of the clear blue sky,” or was it, one of the Sisters, waiting in Chapel for prayer to commence, excitedly drew my attention to the selection she had just read in our Lenten reflectionary, Not by Bread Alone 2023. The author, Susan Swetnam, was describing the beloved parable of the Samaritan woman at the well, and it seems Susan had been tasked with writing a reflection about the woman’s encounter with Jesus. Susan’s concern was that she would just end up parroting the typical interpretation everyone already held. But during one impossibly busy day, an unexpected encounter with a former student led her to write convincingly from a totally new point of view. You see, God had touched her soul when least expected, and that had changed everything. And so it was with me. With new eyes and an open mind, I went again to Matthew 16: 21-27.
- “Get thee behind me Satan! You are an obstacle to me.” How can we be an
obstacle to God? [Consider the child stomping a foot at a parent and screaming no, or I won’t!]
- “You are thinking not as God does, but as human beings do.” This is key for me, for how do humans think compared to God?
- “Whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself, take up the cross and follow me.”
- “Whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.”
An examination of conscience is what comes to my mind as I reflect upon Jesus’ words.
- When the most notable of Church personages – the elders, chief priests, and scribes – caused Jesus harm, can I do so likewise by being an obstacle to him, as was Peter?
- Do I rebuke God, as did Peter? In what way?
- How often do I think NOT as God does, as did Peter?
- Do I get behind Jesus and follow Him? What exactly does that mean?
- Am I willing to take up my cross? How would that look for me?
Am I willing to lose my life for Jesus? How might that happen? The answer here might be in the song “What Gain is There?” by the Monks of Weston Priory. “……….the most precious gift that we can give is not other than ourselves: which is the bread of love for others;………”
So, am I willing to lose my life for Jesus? What does your examination of conscience tell you?