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Twenty-Second Sunday in Ordinary Time – Cycle A

2 September 2017

Reflecting on Matthew 16: 21-27

I remember exactly where I was the day I realized that those who give their lives in service of the gospel do not live in a magic bubble of security (like Peter may have imagined that Jesus did). I was standing on the campus of the University of Notre Dame, within the magnetic field of the Golden Dome and Touchdown Jesus, talking to my brilliant mentor Barbara Budde (now the director of the Office of Social Concerns for the diocese of Austin, Tx).

Looking back, I can’t believe that I was still holding out hope that bad things would never happen to good people. Somehow I had visited the Anne Frank House in Amsterdam, and the Dachau concentration camp in Germany, and never fully grasped that evil can touch the most innocent of people. But when the four North American churchwomen were raped and murdered in El Salvador on December 2, 1980, the last nail was driven into the coffin of my wishful thinking.

“These women stood with the poorest of the poor,” I said. Her answer still chills me: “And they were horribly murdered for it.”

I suspect that Peter was starting to come out of his magical thinking too. Herod had killed John the Baptist, and now Jesus was prophesying his own torture and death. But Jesus was the Son of God! Wouldn’t that give him certain amnesty from the cross?

Poor Peter. He would see his Lord crucified. But he would also see him raised! So much happened in Peter’s heart between that day and the one, thirty years later, when he himself was stretched upside down on Nero’s cross.

In what ways does Peter’s courageous martyrdom strengthen you?

Kathy McGovern ©2017

Ordinary Time - Cycle A

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