A Message from Fr. Jay
I love the classic movie Gladiator, it is dear to my heart. In some scenes, the dialogues are more powerful than the visuals of fierce fighting. There is a scene of “whisper talk” between the Emperor Marcus Aurelius and his General Maximus. During the talk, Maximus, a strong, loyal, and trustworthy General of Cesar is offered a big honor by Cesar himself to rule Rome after him. Maximus, a very unassuming and humble guy, denies the offer wholeheartdly, and that’s when Cesar embraces him and says, “that’s why it must be you”.
Peter is Maximus to Jesus. Peter is chosen by the Lord. Last week, Jesus promised him the keys of the Kingdom of Heaven, and, this week, he shouts at him, “Get behind me Satan”. Peter, a very unassuming and humble guy himself, would take up anything for Jesus because he always keeps his mind and heart open to his master Jesus. He was also a very casual man who liked being praised by his Master, he became sad when Jesus rebuked him but still always sticks to Jesus loyally.
Like Jeremiah (in the first reading), Peter was also scared to death during the passion of Christ. He denied Jesus, ran away from him. But still, he was the one chosen by resurrected Jesus! Three times he amends himself to Jesus by saying, “Yes Lord you know that I love you!” Finally, Peter becomes Saint Peter by giving his life for the Faith he earned from his Master.
The praises he received from our Lord were to recognize him as the leader of the universal Church. The scolding he endured from Jesus was to constitute himself in faith as solid as “rock”. The second reading shows the way how one could constitute himself/herself: “offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God, your spiritual worship”.
We also share in the weakness of human life like Peter, yet God has chosen us and says to us, “that’s why it must be you” to deny yourself and follow me. Are we ready?
This weekend is Labor Day weekend, a time to recognize the laborers, who are the heroes of the modern world. Like our soldiers placed at different terrains to maintain peace and order in the world, the laborers with their hard work, are providing us a dignified life within our country. Many even have given their lives by actively working in trade unions and labor movements to ensure a humane and integral development of our society. May God bless our country and every citizen who tries to work for the will of God (second reading).
Please also remember that this week we celebrate the Nativity of our Mother Blessed Virgin Mary. The Lady our Mother might help us “to offer our bodies as living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God, our spiritual worship”. Let’s prepare our shoulders to take up our cross and follow Him.
Fr. Jay Raju