August 31, 2011
22nd Sunday in Ordinary Time (A)
When I was in Hollywood, a Filipina offered an instant “ginatan halo-halo” for merienda. Having been away from the Manila for five months, the thought of ginatan halo-halo thrilled me. But the taste of this instant ginatan was a big disappointment. It was far from the taste of real ginatan. Indeed, instant products are not always good. Unfortunately, our world is turning into the culture of instants, short cuts, quick fix, and convenience stores. Modern technology is giving us a painless, easy and lazy life. Majority would say, why make it difficult and complicated when technology can make it simple and quick? In the process, we lost the value and wisdom of sacrifice and suffering.
In our gospel today, Jesus revealed the secret formula of his future glory: He must go to Jerusalem, suffer greatly, be killed, and on the third day be raised (Mt.16:21). But it was the antithesis of the disciples’ idea of “glory.” So Peter corrected Jesus, “God forbid, Lord! No such thing shall ever happen to you.” Peter couldn’t accept that suffering and sacrifice are necessary ingredients in Jesus’ assent to glory. Peter couldn’t think a suffering Saviour. And so Jesus rebuked him, “Get behind me Satan, You are thinking not as God does, but as human beings do.” And Jesus gave his triple conditions to discipleship to correct Peter’s wrong notion of sacrifice and suffering, “Whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me.” (Mt.16:24) There is no instant glory in following Christ. We need to take the road to sacrifice and suffering to attain fullness of life and salvation.
Fullness of life and salvation can only be achieved through sacrifice, self-denial and hard work. Not through shortcuts or any instant solution. They are the fruits of our hard labour, perseverance and faithful carrying of our daily cross.
When Jesus scolded Peter with the words, “Get behind me, Satan!”... Jesus’ is directly commanding Peter to resist the devil’s deceiving temptation – take shortcuts, avoid pain and suffering, run away from the cross and self-indulge. But life is not like that. It has its own challenges, failures, misgivings, detours and delays. When these things happen, self denial and sacrifice become our way of engagement. And we gain a lot from them.
One of my friends required his newly graduate son to work as an all-around helper in their bakery. The son resented the idea at the beginning. He felt humiliated but followed his father’s decision. As a worker, the son learned how to relate to people and learned the value of hard work. After six months, his father made him the new manager of the bakery.
In his desire to protect Jesus from suffering, Peter failed to see the importance of sacrifice in God’s plan of salvation. Self-denial is necessary. No sacrifice, no glory.
If you want a happy family, then sacrifice.
Spend more quality time with your family.
If you want to pass the board exam, then sacrifice.
Go to the library and read read read.
If you want good health, then sacrifice.
Avoid your favorite junk food and exercise daily.
If you want beautiful garden, then sacrifice.
Toil under the sun and soil your hands.
If you want fruits in your backyard,
then plant trees now and wait for years patiently.
If you want delicious ginatan, then sacrifice a little.
Prepare your own coco milk. Cook it slowly.
It may take a while but it’s worth all the wait and effort.
Today’s Gospel calls us to take the same road with Jesus: “Whoever wishes to come after me he must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me.” (Matthew 16:24). St. Paul also exhorts us to run hard to win the race: “Athletes exercise self-control in all things; they do it to receive a perishable garland, but we an imperishable one. So I do not run aimlessly, nor do I box as though beating the air; but I punish my body and enslave it, so that after proclaiming to others I myself should not be disqualified.” (1 Corinthians 9:25-27).
No to shortcuts and instants.
In heaven, only fruits of hard labor and sacrifice are recognized. And they don’t serve instant ginatan there.
Fr.Willy M. Samson,SJ
St. Joseph Parish