Browsing Homilies

Twenty-second Sunday in Ordinary Time

Jer 20:7-9 | Ps 63 | Rom 12:1-2 | Mt 16:21-27

I believe it’s in our very nature to safeguard those we love. At this time of year, children are going to kindergarten, teens and young adults are headed into high school and have departed for college—sometimes we’d rather that our kids just stay little. Even animals instinctively protect. Peter swore to protect Jesus. He was certain that his friend wasn’t going to die. No friend of his was ever going to get hurt on his watch! But Jesus valued the enduring will of God over Peter’s short-lived preservation, exclaiming, “You are not thinking as God does!” To die on the cross was something that the Savior had to do, even though it would be agonizing.

In our first reading, the prophet was tired of getting into trouble on God’s behalf. Self-protectively, he cries, out, “Just let me be! Let me hold this message inside—I will not speak it.” But speaking was something he had to do, even though it hurt.

Children grow up, spouses die, friends move away, and grandparents go to eternity. You and I may be tempted to hold our loved ones back, but we cannot save them. That role was left to Christ. At times, are we being prudently protective or self-servingly possessive? To release others is something we have to do, even though it may hurt deeply.  

The Lord guards our loved ones for eternity; no one will snatch them away. Therefore, we relinquish to God our own certainty as to how we believe things ought to be. Sometimes we resist doing that—so did Jeremiah—so did Saint Peter.

Who do we try to protect at all cost? How much of his or her future can we truly control? There is a fine line in discernment between trusting God to take care of those we love and chasing after our own ideas of how things should go. Who or what currently worries you? What is the most prudent path to take? The Holy Spirit, operative in you, will guide your response.

Lord Jesus, you weren’t pleased with Peter for wanting to avoid pain. We, too, may not want to let go of children or a spouse or friends or others who are close to us. It hurts, and we don’t want to be hurt. Create within us a desire to follow you so closely that we are willing to surrender all for the love of you. Burn in our hearts; put fire in our bones, so that we put you first in our lives. And we entrust those we love into your hands, living and deceased, for you hold them even more tenderly than we do, and more than we could ever possibly comprehend.


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