13 SEP 2009

       In todayís Gospel I am always surprised when I read Jesus saying ''get behind me Satan''. Jesus says this to Peter the Rock that the church, our church, is to be built upon. First of all it shows the human side of the man we call Jesus. Now we believe that He was both human and divine. I think that it is rare in the Scriptures that we see Jesus speak so harshly to one of his chosen apostles. Imagine how Peter must have felt when Jesus snapped at him and accused him as thinking like a human being and not like God. We know the apostles were of course human. We know that they had spent close to three years traveling and learning from the greatest teacher of all.

       At the time before Jesus crucifixion the apostles listened they chose to be with him and learn from him. A lot of times though they just did not get it. They were men from the working class and they struggled to grasp some of the things Jesus was preaching about. If they only knew then, what we know now, would they have thought any differently? They really had no one to talk to explain what this man was teaching them. Usually these days if we attend an institution of higher learning we have counselors or mentors to help us through our learning process.

       In our world today in which we live in we go to Mass on Sunday we hear the readings listen to a short homily and then we continue with our Eucharistic celebration. Of course there is a lot more that goes into this hour or so we gather together every Sunday. The core of our belief happens right here at the altar, that is of the transformation of bread and wine into the body and blood of Christ.

       There is another aspect of our communal Catholic life that I would like for us to consider. How many of your friends or co-workers know that you are ''Catholic''? We are called to share our faith with other people. I would not say that we are called to convert people, but if that should happen because we shared our faith then so much the better for that person and the church.

       Recently at a local restaurant here in town I got involved in a conversation with two young men who where in route to a menís gathering at a local church. They were talking about sin and I felt it was appropriate to explain to them how we as Catholics deal with sin through the sacrament of Reconciliation. I knew from listening to them that I certainly was not to going to convert them; I just felt it was important to share with them what we believe. I explained how we go before a priest and confess our sins and then the priest in ''Persona Christi'' the person of Christ absolves us of our sins.

       Also recently I had the opportunity to share with some friends why I chose not to eat anything prior to us going to Mass later that afternoon. She looked at me perplexed and I proceeded to explain to her about our communion ''the Eucharist'' is what we believe is actually the body and blood of Christ, and that we are expected to refrain from food or drink at least an hour before the reception of the Eucharist. This is so we spend some time in preparation for receiving the Body and Blood of our Lord Jesus Christ.

       These two examples are just some ways to share our faith. One way to further our understanding of our faith is to get together in other activities provided for enriching our faith. Here at St. Malachy I have had the opportunity to sit in on various study groups that might be taking place during the week or on the weekend. There are all sorts of opportunities to gather in small groups and learn together. Priests and Deacons continue after their ordination to gather periodically in small continuous groups to continue to share and grow in our faith. There are all kinds of opportunities to grow in our faith here at St. Malachy.

       I often reflect on the twelve who had the good fortune to connect with Jesus and to follow him for three years before the end of his human life. After his crucifixion I wonder how they must have felt in retrospect at all that Jesus had said to them before he was put to death. I am sure their faith carried them through. There is no greater way to carry on our faith than to learn it, believe it and share it. We learn it by attending Mass on a regular basis and by seeking a better understanding of our faith by sharing in small groups and learning, always seeking a greater understanding of what we believe.

       All we can get from these two activities help us to share our faith and hopefully to follow that up with good works as spoken about in our second reading today. Remember faith is no good without works. We must strive to reach out among those who do not have our faith. To share our faith with friends and strangers can be very rewarding. We must also look to share our faith and works with those less fortunate than ourselves.

       Sometimes the road to salvation can be tough but very rewarding. We believe one of the ways to achieve salvation is by doing good works. We have to have faith to teach. To do the things we do in Christí name we must have faith the Lord will lead us in the right direction. To do that though sometimes requires some sacrifice. Let us remember what Jesus says in the closing of his teaching today, ''Whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself, take up his cross and follow me.'' Let us take up our cross and try to think as God does but remember the apostles struggled as much as we do today and they were in the real presence of our one true Savior, Jesus Christ.


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