St. Augustine Catholic Church     314-385-1934

What does discipleship mean…

Pastor’s Pen
St. Augustine Catholic Church
Sunday, August 30, 2020
Twenty-second Sunday of Ordinary Times

Dear Church Family,

Today we celebrate our 28th anniversary of St. Augustine as our spiritual leader. We really picked a good one twenty-eight years ago. It seems that today we have to give our all and all because that is what discipleship entails—giving our all to the Lord. Matthew’s version of Jesus’ first passion prediction is what our Gospel is about today. Thus, Jesus begins to describe what being a Messiah means. The challenging part in all of this is that Jesus supports none of the usual features associated with the expected Jewish Messiah. This will cause a major stumbling block for his disciples as demonstrated today in the actions of Peter. Poor Peter! It seems to me he got a bad rep in just trying to cushion and not really understanding what Jesus said. But Jesus describes his Messianic future. It’s funny because it seems a bit peculiar that Peter had just finished accurately confessing Jesus as Messiah and Lord, son of the Living God. From this event, Jesus now moves forward and unfolds for his disciples what it means for Him to be the Messiah—going to Jerusalem, suffering greatly from the elders, chief priests, and scribes, and eventually being killed.  Then on the third day, raised from the dead.

Maybe like us, Peter understands not one word of what Jesus has just said. A dead Messiah seems to be a contradiction in terms and Peter rebukes Jesus for what have must have sounded like blasphemy.  Anyone overhearing this argument would be very supportive of Peter’s response. Nothing in Messianic tradition as uneven as it might have been, would have matched Jesus’ description.  However, he shows more than a small amount of anger aimed at Peter. Jesus curses Peter, calls him Satan, and renders him a scandal or an obstacle. The divine revelation that Peter had access to earlier is now missing, according to Jesus. Peter is responding merely as another human being.

Now what does discipleship mean then? Again, discipleship means giving your all and all. It is not about accumulating glory and power, fame or fortune. So central to discipleship is self-denial. A disciple must be ready to take up his or her cross and follow Jesus. That is what we try to do especially when we are aware of it on this Feast of St Augustine today. We know the cross was an image of degradation, suffering, and defeat since crucifixion was initiated in Persia 300 hundred years before the time of Jesus. So, if a disciple saves his or her life, by losing it for Jesus’ sake, real life is discovered. This is a new life Jesus is describing, one that begins with His Resurrection and then becomes available to us. So, Church, enjoy the challenge of discipleship once again and let us just center in on the great desire of drawing close to our Lord by serving, worshiping, and being His disciples. Alleluia!

Love, Father Bob

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