CONTENTS OF THIS SECTION
- Readings for the Sunday.
- Reflective Questions. For private or group use.
- Focusing the Gospel.
- Connecting the Gospel.
- Understanding Scripture.
SUGGESTION BEFORE YOU READ THE SCRIPTURES TODAY.
Try not to read just to read it and get through it. Got my drift? We can do this so easily. Take the Readings slowly….as you read, you might like to read it aloud. The sounds of the words help us concentrate and it helps us reflect as we read. Try and be aware of your breathing before you even start….it is better to be at 5 k.p.h that 50! Enable words and meanings to gently jump out at you….soothingly take note in your mind as to what teases you as you read and see God’s Word. Don’t forget that the First Reading is always linked to the Gospel…..see if you can pick up the links.
First Reading: Jeremiah 20:7-9
You have seduced me, Lord, and I have let myself be seduced; you have overpowered me: you were the stronger.
I am a daily laughing-stock, everybody’s butt. Each time I speak the word, I have to howl and proclaim: ‘Violence and ruin!’ The word of the Lord has meant for me insult, derision, all day long. I used to say, ‘I will not think about him, I will not speak in his name any more.’ Then there seemed to be a fire burning in my heart, imprisoned in my bones. The effort to restrain it wearied me, I could not bear it.
This is the word of the Lord. Thanks be to God.
RESPONSORIAL PSALM: Psalm: Ps 62:2-6. 8-9
R. My soul is thirsting for you, O Lord my God.
O God, you are my God, for you I long; for you my soul is thirsting. My body pines for you like a dry, weary land without water. R.
So I gaze on you in the sanctuary to see your strength and your glory. For your love is better than life, my lips will speak your praise. R.
So I will bless you all my life, in your name I will lift up my hands. My soul shall be filled as with a banquet, my mouth shall praise you with joy. R.
For you have been my help; in the shadow of your wings I rejoice. My soul clings to you; your right hand holds me fast. R.
Second Reading: Romans 12:1-2
Think of God’s mercy, my brothers, and worship him, I beg you, in a way that is worthy of thinking beings, by offering your living bodies as a holy sacrifice, truly pleasing to God. Do not model yourselves on the behaviour of the world around you, but let your behaviour change, modelled by your new mind. This is the only way to discover the will of God and know what is good, what it is that God wants, what is the perfect thing to do.
This is the word of the Lord. Thanks be to God.
Gospel: Matthew 16:21-27
Jesus began to make it clear to his disciples that he was destined to go to Jerusalem and suffer grievously at the hands of the elders and chief priests and scribes, to be put to death and to be raised up on the third day. Then, taking him aside, Peter started to remonstrate with him. ‘Heaven preserve you, Lord,’ he said. ‘This must not happen to you.’ But he turned and said to Peter, ‘Get behind me, Satan! You are an obstacle in my path, because the way you think is not God’s way but man’s.’
Then Jesus said to his disciples, ‘If anyone wants to be a follower of mine, let him renounce himself and take up his cross and follow me. For anyone who wants to save his life will lose it; but anyone who loses his life for my sake will find it. What, then, will a man gain if he wins the whole world and ruins his life? Or what has a man to offer in exchange for his life?
‘For the Son of Man is going to come in the glory of his Father with his angels, and, when he does, he will reward each one according to his behaviour.’
This is the Gospel of the Lord. Praise to you, Lord Jesus Christ.
How about going back to the First Reading and see if the link between it and the Gospel becomes more evident to you.
REFLECTIVE QUESTIONS::::::: POINTS TO PONDER ‘Lord, what are you saying to me through your Holy Word today?’
Lord, what are you saying to me through your word? What response can I make
to your invitation?
- What strikes you as you read this Gospel today? Why?
- What do you think is the meaning within God’s Word in the first Reading?
- In the first reading, Jeremiah is so in tune with the Lord that he cannot hold back from speaking of him to others. Could that be said of your faith? What are the obstacles that keep you from talking to someone about your faith in Christ? Take some time now to pray that you would be able to overcome them.
- The responsorial psalm talks of the soul “thirsting” for God. Do you feel your soul is thirsty for the Lord? Why or why not? What can you do this week to water your soul even more?
In the Gospel, Jesus had to rebuke Peter because Peter wanted to tell Christ what he needed to do. How can you increase your receptivity to Christ’s leading, rather than telling him what he needs to
do for you?
Jesus also spoke of the need to deny ourselves and take up our cross? What cross is the Lord asking you to bear?
Try not to be afraid of this question….just quietly go back over the Gospel passage, and see what jumps out at you; is it an invitation? Is it a challenge? Let the message of God’s Word in all its richness, enter into your whole being…like sandalwood oil seeping gently into a beautiful Tasmanian oak floor, leaving behind its precious scent…..
GOD’S WORD IS NOURISHMENT:
Focusing the Gospel
Key words and phrases
Jesus began to make it clear to his disciples that he was destined to go to Jerusalem
and suffer grievously.
And to be raised up on the third day.
Heaven preserve you, Lord,’ he said. ‘This must not happen to you.
If anyone wants to be a follower of mine, let him renounce himself and take up his
cross and follow me.
For anyone who wants to save his life will lose it; but anyone who loses his life
for my sake will find it.
Enlighten the eyes of our heart, that we might see how great is the hope to which we are
You have seduced me, Lord, and I have let myself be seduced.
My soul is thirsting for you, O Lord my God.
to the point
In the gospel Jesus offers a prophecy of what awaits him – he will ‘suffer,’ ‘be killed,’ and ‘be raised.’ Peter recoils at this statement of Jesus’ fate. Like Peter, we tend to limit our vision by focusing only on the suffering and death. The fullness of the paschal mystery always leads through suffering and death to new life. Indeed, it is the only way.
Connecting the Gospel
to the first reading
Jeremiah suffered for being faithful to God’s call. All who wish to be faithful must be prepared to suffer – and be saved.
to Christian experience
Authentic discipleship does not require us to hunt for suffering. Being faithful to Jesus will bring enough as it is.
Lament – from suffering to deliverance
This Sunday’s first reading from Jeremiah is one of several passages in which he prays to God and describes the suffering he endures for being a prophet. These passages have been traditionally called ‘The Confessions of Jeremiah’ but are now referred to as his ‘complaints’ or ‘laments.’ This Sunday’s portion is the first part of one such complaint (20:7-9); on Sunday 12 we read the second part (20:10-13). Dividing the lament in this way served the interests of the Lectionary, using the first reading to highlight particular aspects of the gospel of the day. This Sunday, for example, the suffering of Jeremiah (rejection and persecution) illuminates the suffering and rejection that Jesus (and disciples) will encounter. Breaking up Jeremiah’s lament in this way, however, obscures the overall structure of this particular prayer-form. Typically this prayer (common in the psalms, e.g., 3, 6, 13, 22) contains the following elements: address to the Lord (Jer 20:7); a description of the individual’s complaint (‘I am an object of laughter . . . derision . . . reproach,’ 20:7, 8); sometimes the complaint uses the language of physical illness (‘like fire in my heart, imprisoned in my bones,’ 20:9); a request for help (20:12); expression of confidence (20:11); hymn of thanks or praise for the deliverance which will surely come (20:13).
The prayer-form in its entirety is important to our understanding its theology. While the individual is frank in describing suffering, the individual is equally confident that deliverance is assured. In other words, for those who
are faithful, suffering is not the whole story for God will rescue those who trust in God.
This theology is evident in this Sunday’s gospel. Though Jesus is not praying, he describes how he will ‘suffer greatly . . . and be killed’ but he will also ‘be raised’ on the third day (Matthew 16:21). This pattern – from suffering to deliverance, from death to new life – will also be true for disciples. Jesus instructs Peter and all would-be disciples that they must take up the cross and lose their life but in so doing, they will find their life (16:25). This is the paschal mystery.