Saturday, August 27, 2005
22ND SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME
AUGUST 28, 2005
22ND SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME - A
You duped me, O LORD, and I let myself be duped; you were too strong
for me, and you triumphed. All the day I am an object of laughter;
everyone mocks me. Whenever I speak, I must cry out, violence and
outrage is my message; the word of the LORD has brought me derision and
reproach all the day. I say to myself, I will not mention him, I will
speak in his name no more. But then it becomes like fire burning in my
heart, imprisoned in my bones; I grow weary holding it in, I cannot
I urge you, brothers and sisters, by the mercies of God, to offer your
bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God, your spiritual
worship. Do not conform yourselves to this age but be transformed by
the renewal of your mind, that you may discern what is the will of God,
what is good and pleasing and perfect.
Jesus began to show his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and
suffer greatly from the elders, the chief priests, and the scribes, and
be killed and on the third day be raised. Then Peter took Jesus aside
and began to rebuke him, "God forbid, Lord! No such thing shall ever
happen to you." He turned and said to Peter, "Get behind me, Satan!
You are an obstacle to me. You are thinking not as God does, but as
human beings do." Then Jesus said to his disciples, "Whoever wishes to
come after me must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me. For
whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his
life for my sake will find it. What profit would there be for one to
gain the whole world and forfeit his life? Or what can one give in
exchange for his life? For the Son of Man will come with his angels in
his Father's glory,
and then he will repay all according to his conduct."
Suffering is always a scandal. It is all the more hard to take in a
technological society such as ours, where we have all sorts of gadgets
to make life less painful, more convenient and comfortable. Look at
the variety of "pain killers" we have on the market. Today we
emphasize "the easy way" in everything: instant meals with microwave,
calculus or English without toil, losing weight the quick and easy way,
disposable articles such as bottles, plates, cans - even husbands and
wives are sometimes disposable, to avoid the pain
of living together.
But suffering is part of the human condition and part of being human.
As the familiar saying goes, "no pain, no gain." There are no
important achievements without effort, pain, and sacrifice. This
applies to arts, sports, science, and technology. This applies in a
special way to love and commitment, the cost of discipleship, the
following of Christ. The cost of discipleship involves a dying to
self, which is inescapable if one wants to become a new creature in
There are two kinds of suffering: the necessary suffering and the
unnecessary suffering. The unnecessary suffering is the suffering I
bring to others by my selfishness. An example is when I wreck
another's marriage because of my adulterous relationship, or I create a
traffic mess with my chaotic parking, or by ignoring the traffic lights
and blocking the intersection and passageways. It can be the suffering
I bring upon the people of my country by my practice of graft and
corruption. It can be the suffering brought upon myself through my
negligence, and an unhealthy sense of guilt and stupidity. Examples
include abusing myself with prohibited drugs, alcohol, and cigarettes.
There is the unnecessary suffering of the epidemic of AIDS and other
sexual diseases brought about by unrestrained sexual promiscuity
encouraged and supported by some societies and governments.
Much of the sufferings in the world are unnecessary and man-made - the
unwanted pregnancies, the terrorist bombings, the violence; the
injustice, the exploitation of the poor, the defenseless and the
powerless; the irresponsible waste of natural resources that results in
calamities. These are all from the sinful misuse of human freedom and
choices. And often we blame God for the consequent sufferings of this
misuse of human freedom.
On the other hand, there is the necessary suffering, which refers to
the suffering involved in growing up, in facing my limitations, in
admitting my mistakes, in struggling with a problem, in sharing someone
else's suffering, in shouldering a normal responsibility, in accepting
reality, in giving up a harmful habit, etc.
The first degree of wisdom consists in understanding the difference
between these two kinds of suffering. The second degree of wisdom
consists in avoiding the first and embracing the second.
In the past, useless pain and suffering had been unhealthily glorified
in some spirituality. Some heresies have condemned pleasure: "If it is
enjoyable, it must be sinful." Certain spiritualities of the past
centuries such as Jansenism and Puritanism were often too pessimistic
and negative, based on the cultivation of suffering suffering for
its own sake. Consciously or unconsciously, this has influenced much
of our own spiritual outlook. Jesus Christ is usually depicted by
artists as a stern, serious-looking person. Too seldom do we find the
picture of a laughing Christ. Even the pictures of the Saints are all
serious-looking people, either looking shy or looking heavenward.
Our present generation, marked by the smiling figure of John XXIII and
by Vatican II, has turned its back on all that. We are more and more
influenced especially in education, by theories advocating
self-affirmation, self-fulfillment, self-expansion, and spontaneity.
But sometimes, modern psychology can go a bit too far. For fear of
inhibition and repressed feelings, we come to think that any kind of
suffering is bad. Faced with his impending passion, Jesus has a
different reaction: He trusts his Father. He believes that his Father
is powerful enough to produce life out of death, joy out of suffering.
He was proven right by his resurrection.
In today's Gospel, Jesus is speaking of the necessary suffering
involved in his own destiny and in the life of anybody who wants to
live humanly - that is who accepts to "lose his life" - face the
necessary suffering in order to find it, that is to know fulfillment
Our world promises pleasure (not joy), and rejects all forms of
suffering. On the other hand, Jesus promises joy with suffering - and
sometimes joy through suffering. Not that suffering is to be
cultivated. On the contrary, we will be judged on our fight against
the suffering of our brothers and sisters. But the cost of fighting
against suffering of others such as hunger, insecurity, injustice,
loneliness will itself bring us its own suffering and cross. Yet, it
will be a fruitful, positive and fulfilling kind of suffering - the
kind compatible with great peace and joy.
When it comes to the cross in our life, we have the choice to accept it
or reject it. Either we can pick up our cross and carry it, or we can
turn away from it and refuse to carry it. Whether you are born with a
handicap, or are suffering from a tragedy in life, you have the same
choice. You have the same choice that Jesus had in the Garden of
Gethsemane. Either you can drink of the cup of suffering that has been
poured out for you or you can refuse to drink it.
Of course, this is not easy. Even Jesus, the Son of God, recoiled at
the thought of drinking the cup of suffering that had been poured out
for him, saying, "Father, if you are willing, take this cup away from
me." But then he quickly added, "Still, not my will but Yours be
If we do not listen to Jesus and if we refuse to accept the cross, we
will still experience suffering, the unnecessary kind, and besides be
unhappy. If we listen to him, we will experience some suffering, the
necessary kind, but we will know happiness. Following Jesus makes all
the difference in the world.
In today's Gospel, Jesus promises that if we pick up our cross and
follow in his footsteps, he will lead us to life. And the life Jesus
promises is not only life eternal in the next world but also life,
right now, in this world.
If we pick up the cross and follow in the footsteps of Jesus, our cross
can become a blessing and a stepping-stone to greater things. Rather
than serve as an agent of death for us, our cross can serve as an agent
of life, just as the cross of Jesus served as an agent of life for all
Let's close with an inspiring testimony to the truth of Jesus'
promise that he will give life to those who pick up their ross and
follow him. This prayer, written in the form of a poem, was found in
the pocket of a dead soldier:
"I asked for health, that I might do greater things.
I was given infirmities that I might do better things.
I asked for riches, that I might be happy;
I was given poverty, that I might be wise.
I asked for power, that I might have the praise of men;
I was given weakness, that I might feel the need of God.
I asked for all things, that I might enjoy life;
I was given life, that I might enjoy all things.
I got nothing I asked for;
But everything I hoped for.
Almost despite myself,
My unspoken prayers were answered.
I am among all men most richly blessed."
We pray -
- for a deep and profound respect for life, especially for the
- for the speedy recovery of Erlinda.
- for the personal intentions of Jane Figuerres-Guillermo.
- for the safe travel of Lydia and JP
- for the personal intentions of the Pe Family
- for the personal intentions of Charina.
- for the eternal repose of the soul of Antonio D. Marcos, Jr. Eternal
rest grant unto him and may perpetual light shine upon him. May he rest
- for the special intentions of the Autor family.
- for the speedy recovery of Antonio.
- healings for Judy, Nathan, Binnie's sister, Rich M, Paula, Lloyd,
Mary, Ann, Dawn, Edith, Harry & Alan.
- for a safe trip for Vera & B.
- for the safekeeping of the sons of EJ. For the healing of EJ's
- for the speedy recovery of Amy.
- for the personal intentions of Elizabeth.
- for the good health & special intentions of Elsa & Paolo.
- for of personal intention of Gloria Santos and for the approval
ofvisa application for her family's immigration to Canada.
- for the successful Christian life program of CFC South B3A starting
on Sept 3.
- for all the prayer intentions in the MTQ Dailyprayer Diary.
- for world peace and reconciliation.
Finally, we pray for one another, for those who have asked our
prayers and for those who need our prayers the most.
Have a good day!
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