Homily for the Twenty-second Sunday, year A

In our gospel passage of today, Jesus began to unfold the reality of the cross to his disciples, he said he was going to Jerusalem to suffer and to die.

At this time in Jesus’s ministry, the disciples have come to believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the savior they’ve waited for with expectations. At this time, the Israelites were under the rule of the Roman government and they desperately needed freedom from the Romans, they needed a national deliverer. So, the Jewish concept of a Messiah was often associated with the idea of a national deliverer who would free the Jewish people from foreign oppression, establish a just and righteous rule, and bring about a time of peace and prosperity.

There was a great expectation of a Messiah, they expected an anointed kingly, and Davidic Messiah who would conquer the Romans and that was what they saw in Jesus. When Philip encountered Jesus, he went to Nathanael and said to him, “We have found the One Moses wrote in the Law and also the Prophets wrote about – Jesus from Nazareth, the son of Joseph” (John 1:45). Even the Samaritans waited for the Messiah, a Messiah who would know everything. The Samaritan woman at the well, not knowing that Jesus is the Messiah said to Jesus, “I know that the Messiah is coming; when that one comes, He will tell us everything” (John 4:25).

There were great expectations among the people of what the Messiah would be like, and therefore, Jesus’s announcement of his impending suffering and death challenged these expectations and required a deeper understanding of his mission. And so we can now understand the reason why Jesus’s prediction of his death at the hand of the elders and chief priests did not fit Peter’s concept of the Messiah. Peter would have thought to himself, The Messiah can’t die, you are Jesus the Messiah, and you can’t die. So, Peter, therefore, “Took Jesus aside and began to rebuke him, saying, God forbid it, Lord! This must never happen to you.”

Peter and the other disciples have been following Jesus, calling him Lord and Master, the Messiah, but they did not understand who he is. So also, in many ways, there are many Christians, who go to Church every Sunday or every day, they are baptized and receive communion, they profess Christ but do not know exactly who Jesus is. And that is the reason many question the reality of evil in the world; if he is truly God and Messiah, why would he allow suffering in the world? Even the prophet Jeremiah in our first reading tells us how he suffered, how he became a laughing-stock and everybody’s butt. He was insulted, abandoned by his friends, and thrown into prison for being obedient to God. In frustration, he planned to abandon the word of God. Jeremiah did not ask for suffering, but he willingly accepted it in love. Even Peter, who tried earlier to stop Jesus from going to the cross, later accepted suffering and death for the sake of Christ with all pleasure. This is not a call to accept suffering unnecessarily; Christianity is not foolishness. But if we have to go through suffering for the sake of the gospel of Jesus Christ, so be it.

There’s no doubt, that we live in a world full of trouble, but let that not lead us to question the reality and potency of God; painful life experiences must not lead us to doubt. God exists, he knows everything, and he is powerful. Let’s not allow the devil to take advantage of our situation to mislead us into thinking that God is not strong enough to help. Do not give up on the word of God; the word of God is alive and active. Jesus never promised a cross-less Christianity. To be a true Christian is to be prepared for battles, we go against the current. Anointing attracts persecution, the enemy is after those who carry the anointing, and he is after believers in Christ.

Let’s pray today and always for the grace to remain steadfast no matter what comes our way, Let’s pray for the grace to resist the urge to give up, and to resist the enemy taking advantage of our situations.

May God bless us all.

Joel Okojie is an ordained Catholic Priest in the Order of St. Augustine. He has been a Priest for over a decade. He served as a pastor in two different parishes, he was a one-time Novice Master and a member of the Provincial Council of the province of St. Augustine of Nigeria, and he is currently on a mission in response to the needs of the Church in Canada.

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