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No Cross, No Crown!!! Matthew 16:21-27

No Cross, No Crown!!! Matthew 16:21-27

Dear friends,

In this week's Gospel Matthew offers a very contrary picture to the one we had last week. Last week Jesus gave Peter the "keys of the kingdom". This week Jesus says to Peter "Get behind me Satan!" The20200220 same Peter, who recognized and confessed Jesus to be the Messiah, had a popular Jewish belief that the expected Messiah would bring instant glory to Israel in terms of military success, wealth and prosperity. Peter had not yet grasped God's ways and Christ rebuked him for being an obstacle to his mission. This shows that even though Peter professed that Christ is the Messiah (as God revealed it to him) he had not fully understood the nature of Christ's mission.

He still sees it only from the perspective of royalty and glory. Of course, he was eager to participate in these. Peter could not understand why Christ should be talking this way. However, God's call is not only about, and participating in his glory, it is also participating first in his suffering. This is what Christ did. That He offered himself as a living sacrifice, means that he submitted everything without reluctance for our salvation. Jesus is teaching us about what it means for Him to be Messiah and what it means for us to follow Him as Messiah. He invites us, to take up our Cross and follow him.

To be a Christian goes far beyond a confession of faith as Peter initially professed, though it must alwayscross and crown begin there. To be a Christian involves pursuing the life of the cross. To take up your cross is to enter a new dimension of life, a life lived under the motif of the cross. To take up your cross is to walk in faith, being transformed into the sign of salvation and honor; the grave being transformed from the place of death and Hades, into the place of resurrection and new life. To be a Christian is to take off your crown and take up your cross; to move from confession of faith to practice of faith. It is to realize that the sweetness of Jesus and His love is not just for you. It entails reaching out for the needy and poor so as to share the sweetness of the Lord.

The cross, when embraced with love and trust that God knows what he's doing, changes us. Crown comes with risks, sufferings, pains, struggles, difficulties, passions, dying to self, giving away what binds us to enjoy the minute of the crown. To achieve something special, we need to do something special. In the face of disappointment, bereavement, Covid-19, sickness, ingratitude and failure, our faith response should be, not to question "Why me?" but to recognize that these crosses are the necessary condition for our future glory. The cross is inequitable in our lives, however, the crown is the end result.

Fr. Frank Kyazze Lwanga.