Sunday Mass | 22nd Sunday of the Year

Catholic Sunday Mass celebrated by Fr James Ralston O.M.I., recorded at the Blessed Sacrament Catholic Church in Durban, South Africa.

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ENTRANCE ANTIPHON Have mercy on me, O Lord, for I cry to you all the day long. O Lord, you are good and forgiving, full of mercy to all who call to you.

FIRST READING: Jeremiah 20:7-9.


RESPONSE: For you my soul is thirsting, O Lord, my God.

  1. O God, you are my God; at dawn I seek you; for you my soul is thirsting. For you my flesh is pining, like a dry, weary land without water. ℟

  2. I have come before you in the sanctuary, to behold your strength and your glory. Your loving mercy is better than life; my lips will speak your praise. ℟

  3. I will bless you all my life; in your name I will lift up my hands. My soul shall be filled as with a banquet; with joyful lips, my mouth shall praise you. ℟

  4. For you have been my strength; in the shadow of your wings I rejoice. My soul clings fast to you; your right hand upholds me. ℟

SECOND READING: Romans 12:1-2.

GOSPEL ACCLAMATION: Alleluia, alleluia! May the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ enlighten the eyes of our hearts that we might know what is the hope to which he has called us. Alleluia.

GOSPEL: Matthew 16:21-27.

SERMON: Fr James Ralson O.M.I.

Sunday 22 A

The opening line of the reading from the prophet Jeremiah should cause you a moment of shock, “Oh Lord, you have deceived me and I was deceived…”, though in another, more familiar, translation “You have seduced me, Lord, and I have let myself be seduced…” The very idea of God being a deceiver, or a seducer of the prophet is, to say the least, astounding, yet the significance is that seduction is all about desire – God passionately desires to draw us into closer union with himself. The experience of Jeremiah is not unique, the discovery that a combination of personal decision and will-power cannot block the designs of God, is more common than might be thought.

Initially it would appear as though there are three distinct sections to the gospel of today; three distinct messages that Matthew wishes to convey to us. This is the first of the predictions of the Passion and sayings of Discipleship in Matthew’s Gospel.

The significance of Jesus mentioning Jerusalem is that this was seen as the city in which the prophets die. He knew that his teaching and what he was saying antagonised an influential section of the community, the elders, the chief priests and the scribes – the three groups of leaders that composed the Sanhedrin, but note that the Pharisees are not mentioned. This would be why he was well aware of the probable serious consequences his actions would cause. His awareness was that of a highly intelligent and well informed human being, not that of one who had divine insight, though it is very likely that Jesus did reflect on the probability of his death at the hands of the authorities and on its meaning in God’s plan of salvation.

The narration follows immediately from the passage from which we read last Sunday of the account of the confessions at Caesarea. What stands out rather profoundly is Peter as the model disciple – the contrast between his faith and his lack of faith, just as the incident of his walking on the lake.Here we have Peter, as impulsive as ever, carried away by a love which lacks understanding, rebels against the very thought of the cruelty Jesus may well have to undergo in order to achieve the divine plan of salvation. His position is suddenly reversed from that of inspired confessor of the Messiah’s presence to that of being an obstacle in the path of the same Messiah fulfilling the will of the Father.

Yet, this whole episode from the Scriptures is not only focussed on poor Peter, whose impetuosity constantly lands him in hot water, but it very clearly assists us in looking beyond our current point to a greater reality in our own lives. Each one of us could easily substitute the name of Peter with our own name, placing ourselves in the various situations in which Peter appears. Let us concentrate on the scene at hand; first the confession of faith in and who Jesus is and then the attempted resistance to the accomplishment of God’s perceived plan of salvation; thinking in a fashion that is more suited to the secular world in which we live then to the world of sanctity to which we are called to aspire. Any time we resist God’s proposed action in lives, we become stumbling blocks in the path to salvation.

Peter got it wrong and has the fierce rebuke, “Get behind me Satan!! You are a hindrance to me, for you are not on the side of God but of men!!” Voltaire once said, “God has made man in his own image; and man has returned the compliment.”

You have heard it so often that in order to follow closely the commands and teachings of our Lord we need to sacrifice our own will and whim, we needs must sacrifice our selfish motivations and seek the will of God in our lives. This is taking up the Cross, of which Jesus spoke to his disciples, and following him. Each of us achieves this in our own little way, going about our own ‘conversion’.

The Christian cannot eliminate the cross of Salvation from his or her life, no more than Christ could. Truly the way God thinks is not the way we think. One must not try to save one’s life, as one would a treasure from a fire, but we should lose this treasure by spending it well!

COMMUNION ANTIPHON: How great is the goodness, Lord, that you keep for those who fear you.


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