Saturday, 29 August 2020 12:58

Stumbling blocks or stepping stones?

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22OTAWeb374aJesus began to make it clear to his disciples that he was destined to go to Jerusalem and suffer grievously at the hands of the elders and chief priests and scribes, to be put to death and to be raised up on the third day. Then, taking him aside, Peter started to remonstrate with him. ‘Heaven preserve you Lord,’ he said. ‘This must not happen to you.’ But he turned and said to Peter, ‘Get behind me, Satan! You are an obstacle in my path, because the way you think is not God’s but man’s.’

Then Jesus said to his disciples, ‘If anyone wants to be a follower of mine, let him renounce himself and take up his cross and follow me. For anyone who wants to save his life will lose it; but anyone who loses his life for my sake will find it. What, then, will a man gain if he wins the whole world and ruins his life? Or what has a man to offer in exchange for his life?

For the Son of Man is going to come in the glory  of his Father with his angels, and, when he does, he will reward each one according to his behaviour. (Matthew 16:21-27)


In Victoria, we are daring to breathe a quiet sigh of relief as the number of new coronavirus cases is slowly decreasing. At the same time, we are still holding our collective breath, just a little bit. We are a bit conflicted: relieved that new cases are coming down, but appalled by the number of deaths, especially among the elderly. We are not sure what we should be feeling: relief or horror.

In this Sunday’s Gospel, Peter is horrified by Jesus’ prediction about how his life would end. He imagined that Jesus would turn out to be a victorious King, not a criminal hanging on a cross.

Last Sunday, Jesus proclaimed Peter ‘blessed’ because of his God-given insight into who Jesus was. Now Peter is ‘Satan’ because it is not God-given insight, but human thinking, he now shows. Jesus tells Peter that he is a stumbling block, getting in the way of God.

The followers of Jesus are called to become stepping stones, not stumbling blocks.

How do you become a stepping stone? Jesus says it’s by renouncing yourself, taking up you cross every day and following him. Doesn’t sound too attractive, does it? Essentially, it means putting God and other people, instead of ourselves, at the centre of our hearts and our lives. It is about living a generous human life as Jesus has shown us and as God intended. That way we make a path for each other across the often turbulent waters of life.

My Grandmother used to say that most crosses in life come on two feet. How true. It is not just about the suffering others cause us. It is also about the fact that doing acts of kindness and love and putting other people’s needs ahead of our own costs us. Following Jesus is a demanding business.

In facing this pandemic we don’t need stumbling blocks, we need stepping stones. We need to carry each other through what is happening to us.

Stepping stones are not all perfectly shaped and they are all different. But together they provide a path and a safe crossing for life’s journey.

Read another reflection for this Sunday.

Join us in celebrating at home this Sunday using the links below.

Celebrating At Home 22nd Sunday in Ordinary Time PDF  
Celebrating At Home 22nd Sunday in Ordinary Time EPUB


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