The Gospel reading from the Mass for Sunday Cycle A of the 22nd Week of Ordinary Time is Matthew 16:21-27.

After confirming Simon’s God-inspired proclamation that Christ is the Messiah, Christ renames Simon as Peter (meaning “rock”) and blesses him, promising He will build the everlasting Church on Peter and give him the power to bind and loose on earth.

Now that His identity as the Messiah was confirmed, Christ moves disclose the stunning fact that He would be rejected, killed and raised from the dead; this vision is completely at odds with the Jewish hopes for a conquering political Messiah King. Peter, showing his impulsiveness and confusion, seeks to rebuke Christ in private. Christ devastatingly rebukes Peter, likening him to Satan, who opposes the will of God.

Christ lays out a stunning vision of Salvation. He proclaims that men who follow Him “must pick up his cross” and whoever “loses his life” for Christ sake will be saved; Christ has not revealed the Crucifixion to even the disciples and now is calling all men to “pick up their cross” and be prepared to die. Christ’s exhortation to be prepared to die to save one’s life is shocking; Jewish law made it clear that men hung on a tree were cursed (Deut 21:23) and Romans used crucifixion to humiliate (and murder). For those prepared to sacrifice, Christ promises to return and “repay every man for what he has done.”

Awed by Jesus ChristSon of God and Messiah, Christ confirms His identity to the Apostles. Divine King, Christ harshly rebukes Peter and calls disciples to courageously turn from the world and pick up their cross and follow Him. Divine Prophet, Christ reveals His coming Passion and calls men to sacrifice. Divine Judge, Christ confirms His role in the judgment and that men will reap what they have sown.

Being a Heroic Catholic Man

1) Be awed that in contrast to the false soft Jesus who makes no demands and tolerates all sins, Christ is a demanding King who offers harsh correction when needed and demands absolute sacrifice (to give up one’s life) from His disciples.

2) The modern culture is increasing driven by a selfish victim mentality, an ever-growing list of individual rights and excessive consumerism. Grow in understanding about the need to Pick up one’s Cross (CCC 618, 1435, 1642, 1816, 2427, 2012-2016) and pray for Christ to help you reject selfishness and to bear the weight of your cross heroically.

3) Christ specifically says each man must “take up his cross daily and follow Me.” Reflect on the need for Daily Prayer (CCC 2659-2660) and ask Christ to help you make the commitment to frequent daily prayer today and for each day for the rest of your life.

Spiritual Practices – Include in Today’s Prayers

Sacred Mystery of Rosary – The Sorrowful Mysteries

Daily Devotion – The Passion and Death of our Lord Jesus Christ

Virtue of the Day – Faith

Corporal Work of Mercy – To visit the sick

Spiritual Work of Mercy – To forgive all injuries