August 30, 2020 – 22nd Sunday in Ordinary Time
Click here for the readings (https://bible.usccb.org/bible/readings/083020.cfm)
How are you coping lately with the New normal life pandemic times has put us up? Whether we like it or not, pandemic reality has changed, is changing, and will change our lives. For better for worse, our life ahead will never be normal back again. Rather than hoping to regain back the normal good old times, we cannot help but accept that we are now at the dawn of the New life ahead and cope with its demands.
Challenging at this early stage is our grieving over our losses – be it relationships, work opportunities, privileges, lifestyle and above all our usual normal life back then. Many have resorted to anger and blame-game (blaming government, civic and church leaders, & even God and themselves) while others succumbed to bargaining (selling themselves short) and denial & depression – a great danger to mental health. That is why at the dawn of a new life before us now it is important for us nowadays to check and be aware of how we are grieving over our losses and coping with its demands, and above all discern our proper attitude and approach towards the dawn of new normal life ahead.
And perhaps we could ask the question: WWJS? “What Would Jesus Say” about our experience of New Normal? How should we approach and what should be our attitude to this New life with Him being offered before us now?Tweet
We remember that for deciding and professing Jesus as his Christ, and as confirmed by Jesus, Peter gained a new identity, role and faith in life as the “Rock”. Because of his inspired new faith in Jesus as the Messiah, Peter plays now an important mission as the foundation stone in the New life Jesus is offering all. However, the same Peter in our gospel today is called by Jesus as stumbling block because he hinders Jesus from the coming suffering and persecution New life entails. For Jesus, the way to redemption is not through our normal way but through the suffering of the way of the cross that requires “deny oneself, take up your cross & follow me.” Meaning, newness also brings along death of our normal lives and loosening of our usual ways. Peter here becomes an obstacle – a stumbling block to the New because though he chooses the New but not at the cost of his usual old Normal but corrupted life and ways. Peter do believe in the promise of the New life with Christ but not at the expense of his usual but limited normal life. Meaning, for listening and being inspired by God, Peter becomes the foundation stone to the promise of a New Life; but for clinging on to his usual Normal human ways, Peter becomes its stumbling block.
Thus amidst the New Life being offered us now during this pandemic times, as Jesus directs us through Peter, we may choose now whether to be a foundation stone OR a stumbling block to the New life with Christ. We may open and be inspired to welcome and adapt with the New ways OR we may remain with our usual limited normal life.
And we also know that for the inspired New to come and grow in our lives now, we have to loose and give up our corrupted normal life. New wine requires new (not normal old) wineskin. New (not the usual) vine for new branches. New updated (not old outdated) system version for new programs. Updates are and should not be same but much better than the usual. And all these new lifestyle requires rebooting, reformatting, and reprogramming, i.e. in religious lingo, the way of the cross towards resurrection and the sorrowful mystery towards the glorious mystery. As Albert Einstein would say: “We cannot solve our problem with the same thinking we used when we created them”, we do need something new and above us (difficult it may be), and cannot remain with the same usual normal thinking, approach or attitude to deal and live with the new offer of life before us now. Same with Peter, we cannot BE Fishers of men by simply just doing our usual normal way of fishing fishes.
Perhaps we ponder on these questions: “When given another chance now, would you do it Again OR Anew? Would you do it same as before OR better than before? Would you live now as usual as before OR as New as it can & will be?” And now we are given another Chance, so what’s it’s gonna be? Lord, as we, your followers cope with the challenges of our pandemic reality, guide us to be a foundation stone, rather than a stumbling block to Your promise and offer of New Life with us now and always. Amen.
By Fr. Aphelie Mario Masangcay, CSsR (a former Filipino Redemptorist Missionary for Filipino Migrants in South Korea who, due to immune compromised diabetic condition, stationed back home in the Philippines for now).