If you are looking at a particular sermon and it is removed it is because it has been updated.

For example Year C 2010 is being replaced week by week with Year C 2013, and so on.

Saturday, 29 September 2012

26th Sunday in Ordinary Time Year B

Twenty-sixth Sunday (Year B)                          

 (Numbers 11:25-29; James 5:1-6; Mark 9:38-43, 45, 47-48) 

John, characterised in the Gospel as one of the ‘sons of thunder’, said to Jesus:
Teacher, we saw someone who does not follow us driving out demons in Your name.
It is easy to imagine the situation: John, a disciple, a follower, a supporter, of Jesus, came across this fellow -- who was none of those things, at least, not openly – making use of the name of Jesus and performing miracles thereby.  I don’t think John was, at that time, the sort of young man to spend time pondering on his own motives … perhaps he felt a certain measure of anger,  annoyance, and -- not impossibly -- even a little envy and frustration, and all together these feelings, whatever their exact nature, seemed to provide ample justification for him -- young as he was -- to peremptorily tell the man to stop what he was doing:
and we tried to prevent him because he does not follow us.
Even though John himself did not spend time looking, introspectively, at all the various motives pushing him to act in such a way, nevertheless, we who are later and lesser disciples than the holy Apostle, and who are now seeking to learn from him how we might progress in the ways of Jesus and in obedience to His Spirit, should endeavour to penetrate those hidden causes more deeply in order to profit from what we may find.
As we start out we should first of all call to mind -- so as never to lose sight of it -- that John was an apostle in the making, and, though still a novice, to the extent that he might apparently come out with the first thing that entered his head:
we tried to prevent him because he does not follow us,
nevertheless, we might well find that such an apparently simply explanation of his own and of his brothers’ conduct will prove, ultimately, to be the best explanation.  We may be able to profit from other insights but probably none we can provide or discover will go deeper than what just seemed to ‘burst out’ from John lips, for, by our very make-up, we human beings are moved most immediately by self-interest, and above all, by fear for self.
John probably felt that the mysterious miracle-worker was somehow a threat to his own and his fellow apostles’ standing.  Notice his words: he did not say for example, ‘we tried to prevent him because he does not follow You’, or, ‘we tried to prevent him because he does not follow You together with us’; no, his words were:
            we tried to prevent him because he does not follow us.
His meaning, intention, is clear enough, but his actual words do tell us something about his, their, feelings at that moment.  John, together with his brother James, was an apostle, and if anyone was performing miracles in the name of Jesus in those circumstances it should have been them, being known as close disciples of Jesus, and indeed, two of the twelve specially chosen by the Lord!
We know that John and his brother – ‘sons of thunder’ remember – were inclined to favour striking gestures (Luke 9:51-54):
Jesus resolutely determined to journey to Jerusalem, and He sent messengers ahead of Him.  On the way they entered a Samaritan village to prepare for His reception there, but they would not welcome Him because the destination of His journey was Jerusalem.  When the disciples James and John saw this, they asked, "Lord, do You want us to call down fire from heaven to consume them?"
They were also easily drawn into ‘apostolic’ disputes about personal standing:
An argument arose among the disciples about which of them was the   greatest.  Jesus, realized the intention of their hearts and took a child and placed it by His side and said to them, "Whoever receives this child in My name receives Me; and whoever receives Me receives the One who sent Me.   For the one who is least among all of you is the one who is the greatest." (Luke 9:46-48)
And this penchant for extremes, this vain, yet very human, desire not only to protect but also to promote self, seems to have remained with the apostles almost to the very end, for even after the Last Supper we are told:
Jesus said: Behold, the hand of the one who is to betray Me  is with Me on the table; for the Son of Man indeed goes as it has been determined, but woe to that man by whom He is betrayed!"  And they  began to debate among themselves, who among them would do such a deed.  Then an argument broke out among them, about which of them should be regarded as the greatest.  He said to them, "The kings of the Gentiles lord it over them, and those in authority over them are addressed as 'Benefactors'; but among you it shall not be so.  Rather, let the greatest among you be as the youngest, and the leader as the  servant.  (Luke 22:21-26)
Indeed, it would seem that this desire for precedence and greatness had been given James and John along with their mother’s milk, for St. Matthew (20:20-22) tells us that:
The mother of the sons of Zebedee approached Jesus with her sons and did Him homage, wishing to ask Him for something.  He said to her, "What do you wish?" She answered Him, "Command that these two sons of mine sit, one at Your right and the other at Your left, in Your Kingdom."
Finally, remember how the apostles were very sensitive about what people expected of them:
A man came to Jesus, knelt down before Him, and said, “Lord, have pity on my son who is a lunatic and suffers severely; often he falls into fire and often into water.  I brought him to Your disciples, but they could not cure him."  Jesus said in reply, “Bring the boy here to Me.”  Jesus rebuked him and the demon came out of him; and from that hour the boy was cured.  Then the disciples approached Jesus in private and said, "Why could we not drive it out?" (Matthew 17:15-19)
And there, People of God, we come to the kernel of the matter.  John, and all the other apostles were, in their student days so to speak, very solicitous about their own image.
Take now the example of Moses, as we heard in the first reading:
A young man quickly told Moses, "Eldad and Medad are prophesying in the camp."  Joshua, son of Nun, who from his youth had been Moses' aide said, "Moses my lord, stop them!"  But Moses answered him, "Are you jealous for my sake?  Would that all the people of the LORD were prophets!  Would that the LORD might bestow His Spirit on them all!"
Or again, call to mind the words of St. Paul, who, chained up in Rome, discovered the depths of human spitefulness:
Some proclaim Christ from envy and rivalry, out of selfish ambition; not sincerely but intending to increase my suffering in my imprisonment.  What does it matter? Just this, that Christ is proclaimed in every way, whether out of false motives or true; and in that I rejoice.  Yes, and I will continue to rejoice. (Philippians 1:15-18)
Both Moses and Paul were dead to self and therefore fully alive to their Lord and God; John and James with their fellow Apostles, on the other hand, were, at that time, very young and inexperienced, and far too concerned about their own image: about what they could be seen to be doing for the Lord, or about what impression they were giving the people.
Jesus was most understanding and simply told them:
Do not prevent him.  There is no one who performs a mighty deed in My name who can at the same time speak ill of Me.  For whoever is not against us is for us.
We can now discover something of what Jesus’ words involved, something the Apostles would themselves later come to appreciate, namely, that the calling, the vocation, of an apostle, does not, in the final assessment, require the performance of miracles, he is judged by one supreme and yet simple criterion, that of his one-ness with Jesus:
He who is not against us is for us. 
The miracle worker had received a gift from God, a great gift indeed and one that gave glory to Jesus in Whose Name miracles were being performed.  However, the incomparably greater gift is that of being, and becoming ever more and more, personally one with Jesus.  The miracle worker is not against us; he is, indeed, for us, on our side; yet, for all that, the miracle-man, is not included in those two words, ‘us’ and ‘our’, and that makes all the difference.
That key to apostleship, -- one-ness with Jesus -- was, at that time, not sufficiently appreciated by the apostles, especially John; they were beginning to live it, but not yet fully recognizing it they could not as yet live it to the full; later they would, and thereby would become models, guides, and protectors for Mother Church the whole world over and throughout all ages.
One-ness with Jesus is a reciprocal relationship in which love, originating in Jesus (‘You did not call Me, I called you’), demands love in return; one-ness with Jesus is a relationship in which love is given with the supreme object of provoking, calling forth, a return of personal love and total commitment.  The gift of miracle-working provokes, of itself and at the best, gratitude.
In our materialistic Western society there is so much emphasis placed on doing things for Jesus; doing things – in His Name – for people; trying to present Him and His message in a popular light.  These can be acceptable, even laudable, aims, but nothing short of the spontaneous flowering of a total and loving commitment to the Person of Jesus Himself will be of enduring worth.  Such love for Jesus, such one-ness with Him -- alone-ness with Him alone -- has no need for anything other to justify it, being itself the pearl of great price, the supreme adornment and fulfilment of human possibilities, and the treasure hidden in the field of Christian life and doctrine which is the Church called to become the beautiful Spouse of Christ.
John’s youthful honesty and sincere love of Jesus have led us to realise a most beautiful truth of Catholic Christian life: let us endeavour to follow him yet more carefully and humbly to the maturity of his unique relationship of one-ness with Jesus:
The disciple whom Jesus loved and who leaned on His breast at the Supper.  (John 21:20)

Saturday, 22 September 2012

25th Sunday in Ordinary time (Year 2)

         Twenty-fifth Sunday (Year 2)     
 (Wisdom 2:12, 17-20; James 3:16 - 4:3; Mark 9:30-37)

Jesus was teaching His disciples and telling them, "The Son of Man is to be handed over to men, and they will kill Him, and three days after His death the Son of Man will rise."   But they did not understand the saying, and they were afraid to question Him.
The words of Our Blessed Lord were clear enough, People of God, but the disciples seemed not understand what He was saying.  Why?  Surely it must have been because they did not want to accept that suffering should come into the life of  Him whom they acknowledged as the Christ of God, the glory of His People, Israel, and their own, much-loved, Lord and Master.
It is still the same today: so many people are unwilling to accept that suffering can have any salutary place in their own lives as Christians, thinking it totally incomprehensible and wrong that anyone living, or trying to live, a good life as a disciple of Christ, should have to experience what they regard as unjust and undeserved suffering; and consequently, when some such suffering comes into their lives they are easily scandalized and not infrequently turn aside from their former practice of discipleship to a greater or lesser degree.
This they do because they have become worldly in their thinking, as Jesus had reproached Peter:
Get behind me, Satan! You are an obstacle to me. You are thinking not as God does, but as human beings do.  (Matthew 16:23)
And having become worldly in their thinking, in practice they soon come to love, not the Lord so much, as themselves and the world, in which success -- in its many variations ranging from personal vanity and pleasure to criminal power and plenty   -- is the only fruit of life that is considered as acceptable and admirable.  In that way having begun as just weak Christians, fearful and tremulous at the very thought of any cross, they end up as sordid participators in what is commonly  regarded as life’s rat-race.
Saint Augustine has a remarkable sermon which touches on this subject, let me quote you something from it:
A sheep is weak, that is, it lacks courage, with the result that it may give way to temptations if they come upon the sheep when incautious and unprepared.  The negligent shepherd does not say to a believer of that sort: ‘My son, when you come to serve God, take your stand in righteousness and fear, and make ready your soul for temptation.’  One who speaks thus, strengthens the weak and makes him strong instead of weak, so that when he has found faith he will not hope for this world’s prosperity.  For if he has been taught to hope for this world’s prosperity, he will be corrupted by the prosperity itself: when adversities arrive, he is wounded, or perhaps utterly crushed.  One who so builds is not building him on a rock, but setting him on sand.  ‘The rock was Christ.’  Christians must imitate the sufferings of Christ, not seek for pleasure.  What kind of men are such shepherds who, fearing to hurt (or displease) those they speak to, not only do not prepare them for imminent temptations, but even promise the happiness of this world, which Christ did not promise to the world itself?
Christians who would avoid all suffering either lie low throughout their lives, or else, like the disciples, they dispute on the way, wanting -- so very intensely -- to protect and justify themselves at all times but most especially in adverse circumstances.  Because of their fear that criticism and suffering -- real or imaginary -- might be coming their way, they will easily, secretly, malign others: questioning their intentions, distorting their words, and decrying their actions.   And thus, whenever circumstances actually do impinge upon their own lives, they tend to lose hold of objectivity and truth in their anxious search for self- justification and protection.  Such disputes, however, unlike that of the openly vain and childish disciples along the way, are conducted ever so secretly, with  confidential whispers and, often enough, under a veil of self-denigrating piety, so that, if at all possible, not even the Lord Himself would overhear them let alone accuse or reprove them.
Let us now return to Jesus and learn how He persuaded His disciples to overcome their fears and change their ways:
They came to Capernaum and, once inside the house, He began to ask them, “What were you arguing about on the way?”  But they remained silent. They had been discussing among themselves on the way who was the greatest. 
Jesus, however, knew what had been going on, literally behind His back, as He and His disciples had walked along, and:
Taking a child he placed it in their midst, and putting His arms around it He said to them, “Whoever receives one child such as this in My name, receives Me.”
In the ancient world children were thought little of and frequently much abused.  Therefore when Jesus took one such person, so insignificant and singularly unimportant in the eyes of the world, and said:
Whoever receives one child such as this in My name, receives Me,
He thereby gave His disciples a picture that was so surprising and familiar as to be unforgettable, and yet at the same time one that offered them teaching of inexhaustible riches.
For those so well-disposed and well-intentioned as to have become small in their own conceit, even the slightest work they do for love of Jesus brings down upon them His loving approval.   To be appreciated by the world one has to be, or try to make oneself, noticed, significant: either by cravenly repeating what is politically correct and walking only along socially well-trodden paths or else by outrageously disregarding normal decency and defying customary opinions and practices.  Such endeavours for personal recognition and renown are, however, of no advantage whatsoever in the Christian life, for God exalts the lowly and humble of heart, while pride -- inevitably and invariably -- separates from the Lord those who pursue it.
Again, dear People of God, observe what sort of relationship the disciples had with Jesus.  We hear it said today: “Why are our churches so quiet?  We should be practicing Christian charity by greeting our friends and openly praising the Lord there!”   Notice the disciples with Jesus in our Gospel passage:
They came to Capernaum and, once inside the house, He began to ask them, “What were you arguing about on the way?”
They had walked the way to Capernaum, but, quite obviously, they had not been walking like a group of mates chatting idly on the way, because, on their arrival at the house, Jesus had asked them, “What were you arguing about on the way?”  He would appear to have been walking ahead and alone, and they had been following as a group.  Why?  There was, obviously, something very different about Jesus, nobody walked alongside Him, shoulder to shoulder, as His equal or special companion, not even Peter or John.  There was a distance between the disciples and the Lord: not, however, one of separation, but rather, one of reverence.
We can see the same attitude in another detail mentioned in the Gospel reading; for, though the disciples did not understand His teaching concerning His future Passion and Death:
they were afraid to question Him.
Now this was not a fear such as we usually have in mind when we use the word:  for it was a fear which in no way hindered them from following Him wherever He went.  It was such a fear as rises in every humble human heart in the presence of  someone far greater than themselves.  And for the disciples,  that greater One was Him of Whom Jesus spoke (Matthew 12:6) when referring to the splendid Temple in Jerusalem which was the pride and joy of the Jewish nation, a Temple known and admired far and wide in antiquity and whose very stones even today still fill modern engineers with admiration and amazement:
I say to you that in this place there is One greater than the Temple.                        
Before such a One, only the blindness of hired soldiers and a stirred-up mob, or the devilish pride of the self-serving religious authorities, could have rendered the disciples incapable of feeling and of appreciating an instinctive fear in Jesus’ humble yet most august presence.
Let us look again, and more closely still, at Our Blessed Lord, that we may learn.
On entering the house (Jesus’ own house in Capernaum, or Peter’s, is not known for sure) He sat down -- note that, a magisterial position -- and calling His disciples to Himself said:
            If anyone wishes to be first, he shall (will) be last of all and servant of all.
Many most reputable translations change the words will be, to must be, or even to, must make himself (to be):
“If anyone would be first, he must be last of all and servant of all”;
“If anyone wants to be first, he must make himself last of all and servant of all.”
Those changes are an easily understandable but not precisely correct translation; the original Greek and the authoritative Latin translation are perfectly clear and, following them closely, our modern English translation (along with others) is more truly accurate.
The difficulty for our modern appreciation is Jesus Himself, the Jesus the disciples loved so much but also reverentially feared; and in this instance we can appreciate why they had such feelings in His regard.   The words of Jesus are, first of all, and most literally, a statement of fact, and as such a warning for those He most specially loved: He was not commanding yet neither was He just offering teaching for their consideration and, of course, subsequent acceptance; His words were, first of all -- I repeat -- a warning for immediate attention, retention, and adoption:
            If anyone wishes to be first, he shall (will) be last of all and servant of all.
Of course there is also most beautiful teaching in those words for His disciples and all subsequent Christians; but the Twelve were in the immediate presence of Jesus, they had Personal experience of Him, and there was that about Him (Divinity), which made Him -- a man like themselves – somehow also ‘other’ and ‘above’.  They loved Him to death (quite literally) but always with reverential fear…. What did His words mean??   ‘Last’ is clear enough, and nobody wants that.  But what about, ‘last of all’?  Last of all the Twelve?, last of all the disciples?, or ‘last of all …’???
Next He took to Himself a child, apparently already in the house with them. Whose child, whose relative perhaps?  He then, quite simply and most movingly, put His arms around the child and setting him in the midst of them all said:
Whoever receives one child such as this in My name, receives Me; and whoever receives Me, receives not Me but the One Who sent Me.
Oh! The beauty, the mystery, the majesty, and the attraction of Jesus!!  Love Jesus with all your mind and heart, soul and strength, indeed; but always – never forget  it – with reverence and fear.
People of God, we should never be ashamed to fear the Lord, for it is proof of the authenticity of both our appreciation of Him and our knowledge of ourselves.  However, let it be a fear like that of the disciples on the way, a fear which, far from repelling them, drew them after Him, irresistibly, wherever He went; pray that you too may progress along their way of discipleship, experiencing a like, reverential, compulsion to follow Jesus ever more faithfully, ever more closely even though it might lead to our sharing in His sufferings. 
Finally, may your appreciation of the glory of the Risen Lord in His temple which is Mother Church lead you to shun all worldly attitudes of mind and heart in her regard.  May you treasure a most respectful reverence for her understanding and proclamation of His truth, for her ministration of His grace; such a fear, such a reverence, that may grow within you until it becomes a totally consuming love which can find its truest and fullest expression here on earth only by devoting and sacrificing your own self to her service of and for His glory:
Therefore My Father loves Me, because I lay down My life that the world may know that I love the Father.  As the Father gave Me commandment, so I do.   (John 10:17; 14:31)

Saturday, 15 September 2012

24th Sunday in Ordinary time (Year 2)

      Twenty-fourth Sunday (Year B)        
  (Isaiah 50:5-9; James 2:14-18; Mark 8:27-35)

We heard in the first reading a prophecy of Isaiah concerning the Suffering Servant, the coming Messiah and leader who would deliver Israel from her bondage to sin.  He is called Servant because He would be totally obedient to the Lord, the God of Israel and totally devoted to His people; He is the Suffering Servant because it would be by His human sufferings -- pictured so graphically for us by the words of the prophet -- that He would fulfil God’s plans and purposes for His Chosen People, not by any divinely-gifted triumphs of military prowess.  Moreover, those sufferings would come His way as part of God’s will for Him -- not by sheer bad luck or as chance manifestations or results of human wickedness -- and for that reason, the Suffering Servant would be remarkable by His constant listening for and to God in order to know His will and walk His way in total and unfailing obedience:
The Lord GOD opens My ear that I may hear; and I have not rebelled, have not turned back.
Now, those words of Isaiah characterize Jesus perfectly; for, having come on earth to do His Father’s will, throughout His life Jesus’ constant aim was to look for, listen to, understand, obey, and glorify His Father.
Early on in His public ministry He said to the Samaritan woman at Jacob’s well:
You worship what you do not know, we worship what we know, for salvation is from the Jews (John 4:22);
and to Jews asking what work of God they should be doing He replied (John 6:29):
This is the work of God, that you believe in Him whom He has sent.
Approaching His end He declared in prayer:
This is eternal life, that they should know You the only true God and the one whom You sent, Jesus Christ. (John 17:3)
Father, the world does not know You, but I know You and (these My disciples) know that You sent Me.  I made known Your name to them and  will make it known. (John 17:25-26)
Indeed, His final and supreme prayer was that His own death would serve for the ultimate glorification of His Father:
Jesus lifted up His eyes to heaven, said, "Father, the hour has come.  Give glory to Your Son, that the Son may glorify You.  (John 17:1)
And so, in order exercise and develop that faith of which St. James spoke so urgently in our second reading, the faith which Our Blessed Lord so exactly defined as bestowing eternal life   – ‘that they should know You the only true God and the one whom You sent, Jesus Christ’ -- we, as true disciples of Jesus must, always and ever more diligently, seek to hear, recognize, and respond to, every manifestation of the word of God in our lives as individual persons and catholic disciples.  Faith is not something we are born with, it is a gift from God that we make our own by corresponding, with love and humility, to the initiative of the God Who lovingly chooses to address us through His word proclaimed by Mother Church, and in the silent, peaceful, depths of our Christian conscience experiencing life in an alien world.
In the Gospel reading we were told that:
Jesus and his disciples set out for the villages of Caesarea Philippi. Along the way he asked his disciples, “Who do people say that I am?”  They said in reply, “John the Baptist, others Elijah, still others one of the prophets.”  And he asked them, “But who do you say that I am?” Peter said to him in reply, “You are the Christ.” 
Peter had, St. Matthew tells us, already shown himself to be a model for us, in that, having received and given credence to the Father’s grace in the depths of his heart, in accordance with those words of Jesus: 
I have told you that no one can come to me unless it is granted him by my  Father   (John 6:65);
he had, upon hearing the personal call of Jesus by the Sea of Galilee, immediately left his nets and, along with Andrew his brother, followed after Jesus, thus becoming the first disciple of the looked-for-Prophet.
And so also, in our Gospel reading today, being this time uniquely privileged by the Father, and deeply stirred by Jesus’ question ‘Who do you say that I am?, he proved himself the perfect example for us by unhesitatingly recognizing and immediately confessing Jesus as Israel’s long-awaited-Messiah, with the words:
You are the Christ.
And yet, although there can be no doubting Peter’s loving commitment to Jesus, he had not  learnt thus far to distinguish sufficiently between the Father’s revelation and his own intense and emotional feelings, for when, on this supremely significant occasion, Jesus began to speak openly and clearly about His own forthcoming Passion, Death, and Resurrection, Peter, perhaps mistaking the strength of his emotions for love-inspired wisdom or a presumption of authority:
             Took Jesus aside and began to rebuke Him.  
I would rather have said that he went aside to join Jesus, but in fact the gospel says that he took Jesus aside and began to rebuke Him!  Whatever his reasons or intentions, whatever his love or admiration, he completely overstepped the boundary between master and disciple and so:
 Jesus turned around and, looking at his disciples, rebuked Peter and said, “Get behind me, Satan. You are thinking not as God does, but as human beings do.”
What a put-down!!  However, lest we think that Jesus’ response was stirred with irritation, annoyance, at Peter’s effrontery, notice what the St. Mark tells us:
Jesus turned around and looked at His disciples
before publicly speaking those words of rebuke to Peter.
Up to that moment what had occurred between Jesus and Peter had taken place in private and it could have remained like that; Jesus could have rebuked Peter, in turn, just between the two of them.  However, St. Mark clearly tells us that it was the sight of His disciples that decided Jesus to bring everything out into the open, it was an issue so supremely important for all of them, as it is, indeed, for all of us.
Peter was, at that moment, not able to appreciate that for Jesus, God His Father was in loving command over, and in total control of, every aspect of His life; and also that, such was Jesus’ love, every single aspect of His Father’s Person, word, and will evoked a response of total, like-loving, commitment from Jesus: there was nothing that God could ask of His Son that His Son would not embrace, even to the extent of His Passion and Death on the Cross.   Peter’s anxious fear was totally alien to Jesus.

The LORD is my light and my salvation; whom do I fear?  The LORD is my life’s refuge; of whom am I afraid?  When evildoers come at me to devour my flesh, these, my enemies and foes, themselves stumble and fall. Though an army encamp against me, my heart does not fear; though war be waged against me, even then do I trust.  (Psalm 27:1-3)

See how vehemently Jesus rejected Peter’s blind emotionalism: ‘Get behind Me, Satan!’  For Peter, mixed-up and uncomprehending, was actually carrying on, taking over, where Satan in the desert had temporarily stopped: trying to persuade Jesus to seek His own human ends, His own self, rather than follow His Father’s way, do His Father’s divine will.
Then Jesus called not only His disciples to Himself, but also, we are told, the whole crowd of ordinary people who were following Him at that time, because the Church He would build upon Peter, and every single member of it, would have to believe totally and unswervingly that Jesus, the Head of His Body, the Church, was, had always been, and to all eternity would be, one -- totally and completely -- with the Father.  Notice: not only those already fully committed to Jesus, not only those seeking to learn more and more about Him and His Good News, but also those ordinary people who were just seeing Him and hearing of that Good News for the first time, all had to appreciate this absolutely fundamental truth about Jesus’ relationship with His Father and commitment to His plan for our salvation:
            I and the Father are one.  (John 10:30)
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 and that of the gospel will save it.”
Whoever, that is, having heard the Father’s call and come to Me, must realize that, as My disciple, he must follow Me and, in his turn, acknowledge that the Father wills to be -- by the Spirit -- in total control of his life too, and that he, consequently, should trustingly follow the Father’s call wherever it might lead:   Whoever wishes to save his life’ -- fearing, that is, that the Father is not willing or not able to do so, perhaps, cannot be trusted to do so -- ‘will lose it’.
One of the iconic pictures celebrating real or imaginary modern advances in social awareness and personal responsibility is that of a young person looking forwards and upwards -- that is, to an ideally bright and better future -- with the words ‘I want to do something worth-while with my life’ on his or her lips.  Regretfully, the life in question is almost always a life offered to such young people by the world, the society, in which they live, and consequently a life to be judged according to its correspondence with the world’s common aspirations such as success, popularity, singular achievement, charismatic ability to attract or to astonish people, talent, shrewdness, ruthlessness, endurance, fighting-spirit, and so on, and all of them are to be foisted onto, attached to an individual ego striving to prove itself in so many and varied aspects and avenues of life before the admiring gaze of the world around.
For us Christians and Catholics, however, that is not the life to which we are called:
            You are thinking not as God does, but as human beings do.”
Our life is not ours to possess; it has not somehow come to ‘down’ to us from nowhere and with no strings attached, leaving us totally free to do with it, make of it, whatever we will.  It has been bought for us by the Blood of Christ, given as a great treasure to each of us, known and loved uniquely, by the God Who made us; it is indeed centred on the heavenly Father and the heavenly home  prepared for us; it is to be lived in the company of Jesus, our Saviour, the Glory of and supreme Model for our humanity, He Who is the ‘way’ for all our endeavours here on earth;  it is imbued and sustained with the power of His Spirit, our abiding hope and confidence, our strength in trials, our peace through tribulation, and the deep, deep joy of our fulfilment; and on earth it is to be lived and celebrated together with all men and women of good will with whom we aspire to work for the glory of God and the salvation of mankind.
Today Catholics and Christians generally make great efforts to speak with, respond to, the world around us; we are so anxious, too anxious at times, to be able to   reply to the latest philosophical ideas or scientific claims, that we tend to discuss on the world’s terms, using the world’s definitions and assumptions, and so are in great danger of failing to understand aright with Peter in today’s Gospel.  Jesus’ words to him should never leave our awareness and indeed our conscience since they are essential for our right apprehension and true appreciation of the beauty and fullness of God’s gift of life:
            You are thinking not as God does, but as human beings do.”