05 August 2022

Denying and following

St. Mary Major

Fr. Philip Neri Powell OP
St. Albert the Great, Irving

Yesterday, Peter thoroughly embarrasses himself. He rebukes Christ and gets rebuked in turn. And, in the process, he picks up yet another name, “Satan.” Jesus calls him the Accuser, the Enemy, and rebukes him as the Tempter. What did Peter do? He forgets who he is in Christ and places his Old Self btw himself and Christ. IOW, he affirms himself; puts down his Cross; and follows himself – his preferred image of Christ. We, of course, would never do such a thing! Except that we are asked everyday by our narcissistic individualistic culture to do exactly that – rebuke Christ, affirm our preferences, and worship ourselves as self-made gods. We could call this fault “moral selfishness,” but the cracks go deeper than mere morality. They run all the way into the heart and mind, splitting both body and soul away from our Savior. Is there anything more humbling for a 21st century American than having to admit that he isn't the master and commander of his life? The humbling truth for followers of Christ is that we are not the master and commander of our lives. Jesus did not die on the Cross to affirm us in our OK-ness. He didn't die on the Cross to help us feel better about our disordered inclinations. He died to kill our fallen human nature and renew it in divine love. He died so that might die with him and rise again toward his perfection. Following him means following him to Jerusalem and his Cross. Following him into death and out again to eternal life. So, deny yourself in Christ. Take up your cross with Christ. And follow Christ even as you are being made holy.         

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