Thursday in the Twelfth Week of Ordinary Time

Matthew 16:21-28; Mark 8:31-9:1; Luke 9:21-27

What Are Your Dreams?

So Jesus has just informed the disciples that Peter is absolutely right, and that upon this profession of faith, that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the living God, he shall build his Church.  Upon hearing this, the disciples were, no doubt, awed and overjoyed – the Messiah was here at last, in their very presence!  Moreover, what would it mean for them?  Where would their place be in this new kingdom?

But no sooner had Jesus lifted them to the heavens that he dashed all of their vain dreams to pieces with the news of what was soon to follow: rejection, suffering, and death at the hands of those who should have received him (John 1:11).  Jesus also mentioned his resurrection on the third day, but it seems that piece of information was lost on them.  And then we see Jesus accusing Peter, the very man he praised so highly only a moment before, of being in league with Satan for trying to talk him out of it all.  And what about his followers?  They must deny themselves to follow him; indeed, even take up a cross, daily.  They must lose their lives to gain them; they must forsake the world and embrace Christ, even if it shames them before men.  How quickly things change; how fast our thoughts travel!  This was not the dream these men had dancing in their heads moments before.

These are some of the most difficult words in the gospels.  When we’re young, they sound easy and capture our imaginations; after all, we have nothing to lose and are too young to appreciate the sacrifices of others on our behalf.  We’re ready to go to the ends of the world and die as martyrs, or so we think.  As life moves on, we marry, work hard, raise children, acquire things, save for retirement, and worry about the future and failing health.  The sacrifices of the gospel recede deep into our memories.  When we were young, we were too poor and foolish to understand what sacrifice requires; now that we’re old, we’re too fearful of losing what we’ve worked so hard to gain.  (I speak like a man of experience, don’t I?)

Our dreams are more often than not selfish and vain.  We must learn to dream with the Bible, to desire what our Lord desires: personal holiness; a willingness to sacrifice that others may have what we think we can’t do without, even when it hurts; a desire to love and serve others, even those who don’t deserve it.  Carrying the cross isn’t meant to be easy.  But he says that as we lose ourselves, we find ourselves, and not only find ourselves, but find ourselves – in Him.  And this should be our dearest dream.

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