Congratulations to Jackie Robinson West. By Reverend Andrew C. Smith Jr.

Good morning Holy Angels:

We serve a mighty God. Congratulations to Jackie Robinson West. They are the United States Little League Champions! We are so proud of their accomplishments. It lets the world know that they cannot believe all of the negative stereotypes about African-American males. These young men displayed work ethic, character, and perseverance.

In today’s first reading the prophet Jeremiah struggles with his high calling of speaking God’s word. He says, “The word of the Lord has brought me derision and reproach all the day” (Jeremiah 20:8). This may have been a difficult time in his ministry. I can feel his pain! Nevertheless, we can say that Jeremiah’s faith was still strong because he brought his complaints to God.

Jeremiah felt that the call of the Lord was too much for him. I am sure many of us feel like this at times. I know I do! However, St. Paul reminds us, “Woe to me if I do not preach the gospel” (1Corinthians 9:16) It is not easy, but Jeremiah has to proclaim God’s word.

Today’s gospel lets us know about the true nature of discipleship. The theology in the passage is consistent with the general message of salvation through Jesus, the importance of good works, and the theme of “taking up the cross” (Mt 16:24) in the Gospel of Matthew.

Last Sunday we read that Jesus gave Peter the keys to the kingdom, and the power of binding and loosing. And today we hear Jesus saying to Peter, get, behind me, Satan. We might ask, why would Jesus speak to him so harshly, after extending the keys to the kingdom to Peter just a few verses before? The answer is quite simple. Peter does not yet understand that the mission of Jesus entails the act of the shepherd laying down his life for his flock (John 10:11). Furthermore, Peter does not yet understand that as a future shepherd and pastor, he will be asked to do the same.

Peter takes up the cross. Here lies the true meaning of discipleship, and for Peter, the responsibility that comes with sharing the Keys to the Kingdom of Heaven.

When Jesus says to Peter, Get behind me, Satan, just four verses after giving him the keys to the kingdom, Jesus is saying “follow me, because it is not for you to change my destiny nor yours as a future pastor of the church.”

Jesus insists that his followers must be willing to accept the cross. Our lives must be centered on Jesus. Are we willing to let God transform our lives so that we can truly follow him? Can we endure suffering as we bear witness to faith?

The Apostle Paul said: “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may receive recompense, according to what he did in the body, whether good or evil” (2 Corinthians 5:10)
Hold on to God’s unchanging hand.

Christ’s peace,
Fr. Drew