Peace and grace to all!
This weekend Jesus informs his disciples that he will undergo great suffering and finally death. We can imagine that Peter is speaking for all the disciples’ when he expresses incredulity and opposition at the Lord’s message. Jesus then poses a stern challenge before his disciples, “whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me.”
Like Peter in the Gospel story or Jeremiah in the first reading, we can feel dismayed or overwhelmed by the cross. It seems like a daunting challenge to be sure, unless we look upon it and touch it in faith. Only then can we understand the cross as the door to sanctity and our way to intimate love with Jesus.
For Jesus, the cross is necessary; not an option and he makes it clear that the Cross is necessary for his followers too. As Catholics, when we gather for the celebration of the Eucharist and remember Jesus’ sacrificial love, we must bear in mind that the Eucharist does not come to us except through the sacrifice that Jesus gladly gave for us all. Each one of us will be asked to give of ourselves for the sake of the other in imitation of Jesus no matter which vocation we have. Some are called to follow Jesus more closely and become priests. The priest is standing in the place of Christ, with Christ and is sustained by Christ as one who gives his body and blood for the life of the world. The priest is set apart, consecrated as a sacrifice, to serve God and his people through a daily cross. God extends this precious vocational gift to the Church in answer to our prayers and words of encouragement to young men. When coming to the altar to be nourished in the Eucharist, please remember to pray for all priests and for vocations to the priesthood. Please encourage young men to listen for God’s call to this beautiful vocation. May God bless you always! +++ Fr. Peter