Twenty-second Sunday in Ordinary Time (A)
August 30, 2020
Fr. John Colacino C.PP.S.








God of might, giver of every good gift,
put into our hearts the love of your name,
so that, by deepening our sense of reverence,
you may nurture in us what is good
and, by your watchful care,
keep safe what you have nurtured.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

First Reading Jer 20:7-9

You duped me, O LORD, and I let myself be duped; you were too strong for me, and you triumphed. All the day I am an object of laughter; everyone mocks me. Whenever I speak, I must cry out, violence and outrage is my message; the word of the LORD has brought me derision and reproach all the day. I say to myself, I will not mention him, I will speak in his name no more. But then it becomes like fire burning in my heart, imprisoned in my bones; I grow weary holding it in, I cannot endure it.

Responsorial Psalm Ps 63:2,3-4,5-6,8-9


R/ My soul is thirsting for you, O Lord my God.

O God, you are my God whom I seek;

for you my flesh pines and my soul thirsts

like the earth, parched, lifeless and without water.  R/.


Thus have I gazed toward you in the sanctuary

to see your power and your glory,

for your kindness is a greater good than life;

my lips shall glorify you.  R/.


Thus will I bless you while I live;

lifting up my hands, I will call upon your name.

As with the riches of a banquet shall my soul be satisfied,

and with exultant lips my mouth shall praise you.   R/.


You are my help,

and in the shadow of your wings I shout for joy.

My soul clings fast to you;

your right hand upholds me. R/.

Second Reading Rom 12:1-2

I urge you, brothers and sisters, by the mercies of God, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God, your spiritual worship.  Do not conform yourselves to this age but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and pleasing and perfect.

Alleluia Cf. Eph 1:17-18


Gospel Mt 16:21-27

Jesus began to show his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer greatly from the elders, the chief priests, and the scribes, and be killed and on the third day be raised.  Then Peter took Jesus aside and began to rebuke him, "God forbid, Lord! No such thing shall ever happen to you." He turned and said to Peter, "Get behind me, Satan! You are an obstacle to me. You are thinking not as God does, but as human beings do."

Then Jesus said to his disciples, "Whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me. For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. What profit would there be for one to gain the whole world and forfeit his life?  Or what can one give in exchange for his life?  For the Son of Man will come with his angels in his Father's glory, and then he will repay all according to his conduct."

Catena Nova

What does it mean to take up one’s cross? It means bearing whatever is unpleasant—that is following me. Once you begin to follow me by conforming your life to my commandments, you will find many to contradict you, forbid you, or dissuade you, and some of these will be people calling themselves followers of Christ. Therefore if you meet with threats, flattery, or opposition, let this be your cross; pick it up and carry it—do not collapse under it. These words of our Lord are like an exhortation to endure martyrdom. If you are persecuted you ought, surely, to make light of any suffering for the sake of Christ (St. Augustine).

Who possesses God’s love, finds so much joy that every bitterness transforms itself into sweetness, and that every great weight becomes light.... Thus, living in God you can have no bitterness because God is delight, gentleness and never-ending joy! This is why God’s friends are always happy! Even if we are sick, poor, grieved, troubled, persecuted, we are always joyful.... We do not seek joy elsewhere than in Jesus and we avoid any glory which is not that of the Cross. Embrace, then, Jesus crucified, raising to Him the eyes of your desire! Consider His burning love for you, which made Jesus pour out His blood from every part of His body! Embrace Jesus crucified, loving and beloved, and in him you will find true life because He is God made man. Let your heart and your soul burn with the fire of love drawn from Jesus on the Cross!....You will have no other desire than to follow Jesus! As if you were drunken with Love, it will no longer matter whether you are alone or in company: do not think about many things, but only about finding Jesus and following Him! (St. Catherine of Siena)

Would that people might come at last to see that it is quite impossible to reach the thicket of the riches and wisdom of God except by first entering the thicket of much suffering, in such a way that the soul finds there its consolation and desire. The soul that longs for divine wisdom chooses first, and in truth, to enter the thicket of the cross....The gate that gives entry into these riches of his wisdom is the cross; because it is a narrow gate, while many seek the joys that can be gained through it, it is given to few to desire to pass through it (St. John of the Cross).

God created through love and for love. God did not create anything except love itself, and the means to love. He created love in all its forms. He created beings capable of love from all possible distances. Because no other could do it, he himself went to the greatest possible distance, the infinite distance. This infinite distance between God and God, this supreme tearing apart, this agony beyond all others, this marvel of love, is the crucifixion. Nothing can be further from God than that which has been made accursed (Simone Weil).

Because being one with Christ is our sanctity, and progressively becoming one with him our happiness on earth, the love of the cross in no way contradicts being a joyful child of God. Helping Christ carry his cross fills one with a strong and pure joy, and those who may and can do so, the builders of God’s kingdom, are the most authentic children of God. And so those who have a predilection for the way of the cross by no means deny that Good Friday is past and that the work of salvation has been accomplished. Only those who are saved, only children of grace, can in fact be bearers of Christ’s cross. Only in union with the divine Head does human suffering take on expiatory power. To suffer and to be happy although suffering, to have one’s feet on the earth, to walk on the dirty and rough paths of this earth and yet to be enthroned with Christ at the Father’s right hand, to laugh and cry with the children of this world and ceaselessly to sing the praises of God with the choirs of angels this is the life of the Christian until the morning of eternity breaks forth (St. Edith Stein/Benedicta of the Cross).

Really living like Christ will not mean reward, social recognition, and an assured income, but difficulties, discrimination, solitude, anxiety. Here, too, the basic experience of the cross applies: the wider we open our hearts to others, the more audibly we intervene against the injustice that rules over us, the more difficult our lives in the rich unjust society will become (Dorothee Solle).

The traditional English translation of stumbling block is far superior to timid recent translations, for the Greek skandalon designates an unavoidable obstacle that somehow becomes more attractive (as well as repulsive) each time we stumble against it. The first time Jesus predicts his violent death (Matthew 16:21–23), his resignation appalls Peter, who tries to instill some worldly ambition in his master: Instead of imitating Jesus, Peter wants Jesus to imitate him. If two friends imitate each other’s desire, they both desire the same object. And if they cannot share this object, they will compete for it, each becoming simultaneously a model and an obstacle to the other. The competing desires intensify as model and obstacle reinforce each other, and an escalation of mimetic rivalry follows; admiration gives way to indignation, jealousy, envy, hatred, and, at last, violence and vengeance. Had Jesus imitated Peter’s ambition, the two thereby would have begun competing for the leadership of some politicized “Jesus movement.” Sensing the danger, Jesus vehemently interrupts Peter: “Get behind me, Satan, you are a skandalon to me.”

The more our models impede our desires, the more fascinating they become as models. Scandals can be sexual, no doubt, but they are not primarily a matter of sex any more than of worldly ambition. They must be defined in terms not of their objects but of their obstacle/model escalation—their mimetic rivalry that is the sinful dynamics of human conflict and its psychic misery. If the problem of mimetic rivalry escapes us, we may mistake Jesus’s prescriptions for some social utopia. The truth is rather that scandals are such a threat that nothing should be spared to avoid them. At the first hint, we should abandon the disputed object to our rivals and accede even to their most outrageous demands; we should “turn the other cheek.”

If we choose Jesus as our model, we simultaneously choose his own model, God the Father. Having no appropriative desire, Jesus proclaims the possibility of freedom from scandal. But if we choose possessive models we find ourselves in endless scandals, for our real model is Satan. A seductive tempter who suggests to us the desires most likely to generate rivalries, Satan prevents us from reaching whatever he simultaneously incites us to desire. He turns into a diabolos (another word that designates the obstacle/model of mimetic rivalry). Satan is skandalon personified, as Jesus makes explicit in his rebuke of Peter (René Girard).


Careful You Don’t Trip

            You are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church (Mt. 16: 18).  Get behind me, Satan!  You are a stumbling block to me (G- Gk. text). Within five verses of Matthew’s gospel, Jesus addresses Simon Peter by two titles, shocking in their contrast: “Rock” and “Satan.”  The one a title of highest regard, the other of utter contempt.  How could such a stunning rebuke come so soon after Jesus’ lofty tribute to the fisherman from Galilee?

            Well for one thing, the sudden change occurred when a new word entered the disciples’ vocabulary: the word “cross.”  A word terrifying to anyone acquainted with Roman justice.  A word as unexpected as Peter’s earlier confession of faith.  For when Jesus asked -- Who do people say the Son of Man is? -- Peter was an unlikely source for the answer: You are the Christ, the Son of the living God (Mt. 16:13,16).  After all, Peter, wasn’t known for being a quick study!

            And that curve ball set the stage for the real surprise: Jesus began to show his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer greatly from the elders, the chief priests, and the scribes, and be killed….  (G).  If only Peter’s insight into hidden things served him now.  But no.  The Rock falters and becomes a stumbling-stone: God forbid, Lord! No such thing shall ever happen to you (G).  See how that little word “cross” threw everything off balance.

            Of course, the stumbling-stone of the cross is always a challenge to faith.  As long as the gospel doesn’t intrude on our comfort, words of faith fall easily from our lips.  But that business about, Whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me (G), that’s another matter.  The rough wood of the cross has a way of wearing down a rock’s hardness, even making it crumble.  Like Peter’s faith crumbled that night when lips that once confessed the Son of God denied him three times and Peter’s faith was rocked to the ground.

            Peter, you see, preferred Jesus build his church on some other foundation. Something more in keeping with the times.  After all, who in the world would believe a crucified Messiah?  Public opinion would never accept such a thing.  The cross – then and now-- is a public relations disaster for the church.  That’s why those who would like to reconstruct the gospel on some other basis always find support.  There’s never a shortage of people who would refashion the faith, making it more “relevant” to a given age -- or at least something you might bring up in polite company.  But never with a cross around your neck.

            So Peter’s problem persists.  His objections can still be heard: “If only we could get rid of Christianity’s stumbling-blocks, people would come flocking to us.”  “Bring the church up to date and our image problem will be solved.”  “Get rid of those things that make people trip and fall.”  And by the way, I’m not thinking of the usual list of objections as if the church had only a few things to say about the times.

            Oh no, there are many other aspects of church teaching which might leave us between a rock and a hard place, especially in a culture of affluence like our own.  Things like the church’s stated preference for the poor; the church’s uncompromis­ing defense of human rights and the dignity of the human person including the immigrant and the refugee; the church’s critique of unbridled capitalism and the all-consuming desire for profit; the church’s insistence on the just distribution of the world’s wealth; and, of course, the church’s vital concerns about climate change and the environment. I could add to this list other teachings rarely heard, around which there sometimes seems to be a conspiracy of silence.  Unless you listen to the current successor of Peter, that is.  Francis is unrelenting in bringing such things to our attention.  Which is why he has becomes a scandal to so many.

            For while the media are quick to indicate how many people ignore or dissent from certain teachings on sexual morality, the media rarely mention how many Americans do not know, much less follow, their church’s teaching on the just ordering of human society.  And many clergy are just as uneven in what they choose to emphasize, or minimize.  I suspect the teachings I mentioned would turn many a rock to dust -- if the boardroom were to become ever as much a focus as the bedroom seems to be.

            Those, like Pope Francis, who are unafraid to comfort the afflicted as they afflict the comfortable, might well utter the same lament Jeremiah voiced: All the day long I am an object of laughter; everyone mocks me . . . The word of the LORD has brought me derision and reproach all the day. (I)  And attempts to soften the rock deserve the same response Jesus gave to Peter: You are thinking not as God does, but as human beings do (G).

            So the advice Paul gave the Romans is still relevant: Do not conform yourself to this age, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and pleasing and perfect (II).  Till that day when the Son of Man comes with his angels in his Father’s glory . . . [to] repay everyone according to his or her conduct (cf. G): Who live and reign, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever.  Amen.



Intercessions (Mary Grace Melcher)

For our holy leaders and teachers in the church, that they may think as God does, showing us the path to life in truth, even when it means the road of suffering.

For the prophets of our own day, who receive derision and reproach from the powerful ones, that they may be strong and persevering, relying on God’s power within.

That we may be transformed by the renewal of our minds, discerning what is good and pleasing and perfect before God, and acting upon what we see.

That we may take our place among the disciples of Jesus, willing to deny ourselves, to take up our cross and follow Him, knowing that the Father will repay us according to our faithfulness.

For those who are in distress, that they may come to see that they are under the shadow of God’s wings, upheld by His right hand, and take courage to cling fast to Him.

For our faithful departed ones, that they may soon be in God’s sanctuary, satisfied with the riches of heaven’s banquet.

O God, whose word burns like a fire within us, grant us a bold and faithful spirit, that in your strength we may be unafraid to speak your word and follow where you lead.  We ask this through Christ our Lord.

Offertory Hymn


“Lord, you duped me, and I let you;

Over me your triumph strong

Has me mocked with ceaseless outrage;

Scorned am I the whole day long.”

Thus the prophet spoke to Yahweh,

“I will preach your Name no more!”

But the need to give his witness

Still impelled him to the fore.


Thus did Jesus to his chosen

Tell of cross and bitter pain;

Peter, hoping to forestall this,

Spoke against this awful stain.

In rebuke there came the message:

You must daily take your cross,

Foll’wing me and self forsaking,

Gaining grace from life that’s lost.


Sisters, brothers, Christ is calling:

Offer living sacrifice

Of your bodies, holy, pleasing,

Unto God, beyond all price.

Not conformed to this world’s standards,

But renewed in heart and mind,

Thus shall God’s own will be shown forth,

Perfect, pleasing, good to find.

Lord’s Prayer

Let us offer the prayer Jesus taught....

Spiritual Communion

My Jesus, I believe that You are present in the Most Holy Sacrament.  I love You above all things, and I desire to receive You into my soul. Since I cannot at this moment receive You sacramentally, come at least spiritually into my heart. I embrace You as if You were already there and unite myself wholly to You. Never permit me to be separated from You. Amen.

Communion Antiphon

Closing Hymn


Take up your cross
And follow the way
The Way of Jesus Christ
His yoke is easy
His burden light

Our Resurrection song.

Whoever seeks to follow Me
Must deny his very self
Take up his own cross every day
And follow in My steps.

What can you show
Who gain the world
When you lose your soul instead
Be not ashamed of the Son of Man
And he’ll raise you from the dead

Our Resurrection Song.