The Cross is steady, while the world is turning.

09-12-2021Weekly ReflectionFr. Arul Doss

Dear people of God,

Good morning to you all. On this 24th Sunday of ordinary time, we honor and celebrate Christ the son of God who humbly accepted the weakness of our human condition. He demonstrated his solidarity with us by generously renouncing himself and accepting the cross.

In sports, business, politics and even religion, we measure success or failure according to these standards. For example, a business is successful if it generates big profits; or a government is successful if it performs well in the polls.

The Word of God this Sunday challenges these basic assumptions. It defines the meaning of life not in terms of personal gain, self-interest and shallow success, but rather in terms of one’s sense of duty, commitment and fidelity. Ultimately, it is our ability to live life’s bitter disappointments that determines our Christian discipleship.

In the first reading, Isaiah prophesies about the future Messiah who would vindicate the faithful exiles of Israel and bring them back to their homeland. Isaiah, however, describes this hero figure not in imperial language of power and dominance. He speaks of a humble suffering servant instead. The Messiah is the one who “would make no resistance, who would not cover his face against insult and spittle.”

There is a similar sense of disbelief in the Gospel story. After surveying the opinion polls about him, Jesus asks the same question of his disciples: “Who do you say that I am?” It is to this question that Peter gives the answer: “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” What follows is an unexpected lesson for Peter and the other disciples. Peter is praised for recognizing the Messiah. He is called the rock. However, the rock can be either the cornerstone or the stumbling block. So long as Peter lives out the call to emulate the Suffering Servant, he is the rock of strength. But if he refuses to be part of Christ’s suffering, he becomes the rock of offense. Indeed, Peter is soon rebuked and called a stumbling block precisely because he wants to remove the cross from the mission of the Christ and Christian discipleship.

Peter has a steep learning curve on his way to be the foundation stone for the Christian community. Like Paul falling from his high horse, Peter also has his pride and ambition checked. He learns to carry the cross as a discipleship of trust, powerlessness, vulnerability and selfsacrifice.

He learns to be led to places he’d rather not go. This is not simply geography, but above all a metaphor for vulnerable trust which is an essential quality for Christian living and witness.

Have a happy and Blessed Sunday!

Yours in Jesus, Fr. Doss