Home » Blog » 24TH SUNDAY B


24th Sunday
I trained as a chaplain in a critical hospital in Manila before my ordination. Assigned to the pediatrics section, I met so many seriously ill children and their families.  Sadly many of the kids I had known and grown to love died while I was there.  Each time a child died, I couldn’t eat or sleep.  I just couldn’t fathom why innocent beings like them would suffer so much and die in pain. I covered my head with a pillow and stifled my tears.
That is why I understand Peter’s reaction to the words of Jesus today.  In chapter 8 of Mark’s gospel, Jesus was gradually hinting at his coming agony and crucifixion. And Peter grumbled, thinking that his protest could stop Jesus from following the destiny he was mapping out before them. Jesus was the best guy in the world, with the promise of salvation for all, and he just couldn’t succumb to the pain he was describing.  Peter’s reaction was that of someone who loved and someone who wanted to protect the beloved.
In life we cause ourselves many sufferings.  Ask the cancer patients who have been forewarned to avoid smoking or the stroke victim to quit his hearty fat-filled diet.  But many sufferings come uninvited because they are just part of the whole mystery of life. We just come to an acceptance that these sufferings are part of our mission as loving beings.  Parents suffer for their kids and spouses for each other.  Teachers, missionaries, charity workers shoulder the plight of their clients.  It is part of their witnessing to decisions they made in life.
We do not understand suffering although we bear it.  We experience it, not analyze it.  As our daily life unfolds we are challenged just to confront the trials we have so that we can survive day by day and be victorious at the end of it all. 
Jesus had a wonderful sense that his mission to suffer was not something arbitrary or meaningless.  He was convinced that he wanted to take up this experience to manifest his deep love for his Father.  All his life was an obedient and loving surrender, and that included whatever he would suffer so he could serve his Father more.  In the end, he also knew that suffering was just a phase in his life.  There will be a Resurrection and that will be permanent!
And so comes his expert advice:  “Take up your cross and follow me.  Whoever wants to save his life will lose it but whoever loses his life will save it.”  Jesus wants us to embrace, not misplace, the crosses of life.  These can prove our love, our commitment, our witness to faith in God.  In the end, these too will pass and what awaits us is the very same destiny of Jesus in his glory and success.
Maybe today you are experiencing a great trial, a problem that keeps you awake at night and causes you terrible fear.  Maybe there are problems you think are too big and you just want to run away from it all.  Listen to Jesus and let him lead you to the best solution to any cross.  Take up your cross and follow him.  Allow his courage to flow into you.  Beg him for the assurance that this too, will pass.  And together with him, believe that in the end, there will be fullness of life!