September 16, 2018 – Pastoral Impressions by Fr. Bill

Today’s readings challenge us to demonstrate our faith. The prophet Isaiah speaks of a servant who will suffer at the hands of persecutors and yet will not rebel nor turn back. This “Suffering Servant” will experience full abuse of the world, and yet he will not fail in his mission. Why? Because God is present and will not allow the servant to be disgraced nor put to shame. God is the help and refuge of those who seek him.
In the gospel, we hear St. Peter confess his faith in Jesus, saying, “You are the Messiah!” Immediately thereafter Jesus reveals to him what the future will hold, not only for the Messiah, but for all who follow in his footsteps. The Christ, the anointed One of Israel, the Messiah will suffer and be put to death.
We who follow Jesus will suffer if we live our common vocation to holiness well. Life throws us all sorts of twists and turns that may not always be favorable. But we must not lose heart. Jesus walked a road which brought him much pain, including the emotional trauma of being rejected by his own people and the physical torture of Roman crucifixion. How can we transform the Christian vocation to the cross into something that is fulfilling? What will be our response to God’s call to a life that, at times, brings us suffering? St. James tells that our response must be to live a life of active faith. Our actions and works demonstrate the faith we possess. As the apostle says, faith that is not practiced is thoroughly lifeless.
So, how might we manifest our Christian vocation to follow Jesus and to suffer? We do so principally by living for others. Parents live for their chil-dren; teachers, physicians, and other professionals live for their students, patients, or other clients.
Mother Teresa of Calcutta became an international celebrity, not because she was rich or powerful, but because of her quiet, unassuming dedication. She took up the cross of Jesus by helping the poor carry their crosses. She lived an active faith and challenged the world to follow her lead. Let us take our cross and follow our Master, knowing that he does not promise us a rose garden today, but rather the promise of eternal life tomorrow.

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