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.”
What a grim reading for today.
For the first time, Jesus predicts His impending persecution, terrible suffering, and death by execution. Then, He warns that being His follower is not a path of roses, but one of self-abnegation and suffering:
“Whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me.”
Christians actually have had it good in America, compared to both the early Church and the many persecuted Christians across the world today, especially in the Middle East where Christianity is near extinction. See:
- 90,000 martyred make Christians the most persecuted group in 2016
- 9 of 10 most dangerous countries to be a Christian are Muslim
- U.S. Catholic bishops call persecution of Christians in Middle East a genocide
- Attacked by Muslims, Christianity is going extinct in the Middle East
But the days of the comfortable U.S. Christian are rapidly fading, as the light of Christ dims in post-Christian America. See:
- Report confirms government hostility to Christianity spiked under Obama
- Bernie Sanders: Faithful Christians are racist bigots, unfit for public office
- Oregon shooter singled out Christians for slaughter
- New Illinois child & family policy discriminates against Christians who are not pro-LGBT
- Northern Arizona U. prof. Heather Martel orders student to stop reading Bible before class
- Christian student punished for disagreeing with militant atheist professor
- Florida’s Rollins College suspends student for disagreeing with Muslim instructor who said Jesus’ crucifixion was a hoax
- Texas teacher gives ‘F’ grade to students who refuse to say God is a myth
- ‘Higher Education’: Rutgers prof.: Christian conservatives worship ‘a*****e’ God and ‘white supremacist Jesus’
- Homosexual director of ‘Beauty and Beast’ wants to rip the Bible to pieces
- Whoopi Goldberg, the woman who named herself after farting, says Christians are just as dangerous as Muslims
- U.S. Air Force assaults veteran for mentioning God
- Homosexuals threaten to burn down Christian bakers’ house and sodomize their son
- Christian daycare workers fired for refusing to call a little girl a boy
No matter what the future brings, we are to heed the words of St. Paul in his letter to the Ephesians 6:10-16:
Finally, draw your strength from the Lord and from his mighty power. Put on the armor of God so that you may be able to stand firm against the tactics of the devil. For our struggle is not with flesh and blood but with the principalities, with the powers, with the world rulers of this present darkness, with the evil spirits in the heavens. Therefore, put on the armor of God, that you may be able to resist on the evil day and, having done everything, to hold your ground. So stand fast with your loins girded in truth, clothed with righteousness as a breastplate, and your feet shod in readiness for the gospel of peace. In all circumstances, hold faith as a shield, to quench all the flaming arrows of the evil one.
In the meantime, we take strength and solace from our Lord’s words and promise:
“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? . . . 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.”
May the peace of Jesus Christ our Lord be with you,