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Random Acts of Kindness
Twenty-Second Sunday in Ordinary Time
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.”
Opening Prayer: Lord, as I know how hard it is for me to accept suffering for myself and my loved ones, I can only imagine how hard it was for Peter and the other disciples to hear that you would both suffer and die. How could they accept a truth that meant their leader would be gone. Open my ears and heart to you, oh Lord, when you are leading me to a greater place but my ears don’t want to hear it or my heart does not want to accept it. When I come to you with a struggle on my mind, remind me to also ask you what struggle you know I should be praying about for greater trust, for full relinquishment. Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, I place my trust in you!
- Tough Words: As Jesus began to reveal the suffering that awaited him, Peter reacted strongly. “God forbid, Lord!” he told God himself. Peter seemed to be saying to the Son of God, “Peter knows best.” Every time we step outside of God’s will, we behave like Peter, saying, “I know best, Lord.” Jesus claimed Peter was an obstacle to him. The totality of our sin also threatened to become an obstacle to Jesus during his passion. Jesus begged his Father in the Garden of Gethsemane, “Take this cup from me.” May we be enlightened by the Holy Spirit to know the evil of sin, aiming to be a messenger of God’s goodness, not an obstacle.
- “Get Behind Me”: In his humanity, Jesus was apparently upset by Peter’s words and thus ordered Peter to “Get behind me, Satan!” As difficult as that must have been for Peter to hear, Jesus teaches us a lesson about how to pray when we’re upset. We are to acknowledge our feelings to Jesus and then beg him for help in our circumstance, praying in his words, “Get behind me, Satan!” to the temptation we face.
- For My Sake: Jesus said, “For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.” Among the young adults in our culture, acts of service are admired, and having a sense of mission in one’s work boosts employee engagement. These are good things! However, among the “nones” (those who subscribe to no faith tradition), humanitarian deeds and having a sense of mission are essential for self-fulfillment, and not always “for his sake.” All works, even the smallest and invisible, are pleasing to God when they’re done “for his sake.” Let’s pray for purity of intention in all of our thoughts and deeds.
Conversing with Christ: Lord, many times, I fear, my actions don’t serve you as they ought. Remind me, Lord, that I am your servant, and in your name I serve the people you place in my path.
Resolution: Lord, today by your grace I will do a hidden kindness for someone I encounter for “your sake.”
For Further Reflection: Check out this list of corporal and spiritual works of mercy for inspiration.
Written by Maribeth Harper.