Sunday, August 28, 2011

GOSPEL: MT 16: 21 - 27

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!"
But Jesus 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 the disciples,
"Whoever wishes to come after me must deny themself,
take up their cross, and follow me.
For whoever wishes to save their life will lose it,
but whoever loses their life for my sake will find it.
What profit would there be for someone to gain the whole world
and forfeit their life"
Or what can one give in exchange for their life?
For the Son of Man will come with angels in the Father/Mother's glory,
and then he will repay all according to their conduct."

IN LAST WEEK’S GOSPEL we saw the disciples riding high. They had, through Peter, acknowledged that Jesus, their teacher and friend, was no less than the long-awaited Messiah-King of Israel.

"You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God." It must have been a really exciting moment for them. This, in turn, brought from Jesus a commission of the highest responsibility to Peter and his fellow disciples. Through Jesus, they were to be given the authority of God himself within their future communities. Peter himself is spoken of as a rock, firm and unshakeable, on which the ekklesia, the Church community, will be built.

It is hard to imagine that this was not a moment of particular joy and satisfaction for the disciples. They now were thinking that Jesus, in line with Jewish expectations, would be a glorious and powerful king. And they, of course, as his followers and companions would have a special share in the glory and privileges that went with it.

However, the euphoria was not to last very long. Very soon after this, "Jesus began to make it clear to his disciples that he was destined to go to Jerusalem and suffer grievously at the hands of the elders and chief priests and scribes, to be put to death and to be raised up on the third day." This, undoubtedly, comes as a terrible shock. This was not at all part of the scenario for the coming of the Messiah! What is worse, the agents of Jesus' humiliation and death will not be some hostile outsiders (like the pagan and barbaric Romans) but the leaders and most distinguished people of their own community. The elders, chief priests and scribes were the people who formed the Sanhedrin, the ruling body of the Jews in Palestine.

Furthermore, it would happen in Jerusalem, the holy city, the site of the Temple where God dwelt among his people. It might be remembered, however, that Jerusalem was the city where prophets died. ("O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, killing the prophets and stoning those who are sent to you!' – Jesus' words to the Pharisees [Matthew 23:37].) The disciples must have felt very disturbed and confused indeed.

So, it is not surprising that at this point, Peter, still flush with his newly-acquired status, takes Jesus to one side, speaking to him almost on equal terms. "Heaven preserve you, Lord! This must not happen to you." How can this happen to the Messiah-King of Israel? The angry reaction of Jesus must have come as somewhat unexpected, to say the least. Turning to face Peter, Jesus says: "Get behind me, Satan!" These are strong words for someone who just now was being given leadership of the community Jesus would leave behind. It is not to be understood that Peter is literally a demon but the disciple's words are understood as a real temptation to Jesus to turn away from the path he is to follow. Unwittingly and with the best of intentions, Peter is doing the devil's work – trying to steer Jesus away from the path laid out for him by his Father. How often have we been such a temptation or stumbling block to others? Perhaps more often than we care to think.

"You are an obstacle in my path, because the way you think is not God's way but that of a human being." Peter is seen as an obstacle, a scandal, a stone in one's path which causes one to stumble. Ironically, the 'rock' which Jesus just now had said would be the foundation of his ‘church’ is now seen as an obstacle to Jesus' work and mission!

Jesus is angry for, though his disciples may have acknowledged that he is the Messiah, they clearly have no idea whatever what kind of Messiah-King Jesus is going to be. They are, as he says, thinking in purely human terms and have not yet got "the mind of Christ" (Philippians 2:5).

They shall have to change completely their ideas about what the Messiah is going to be like. He will not be a great political and military leader who will sweep away all of Israel's enemies. Even after the resurrection they were still thinking in those terms. "We had hoped that he was the one that would redeem Israel", said the two fellows on their way to Emmaus (Luke 24:21), not realising the irony of their words. "When will you restore the kingdom of Israel?" the disciples asked Jesus as he prepared to leave them at the Ascension.

Yes, Jesus will be a King, but he will be a King of love, a King who will rule by serving. Because he loves and serves them, he will, if necessary, be prepared to die for them, for this is the greatest love that a person can show for his friends. This is not to say that Jesus wants to die on the cross but he is totally prepared to suffer and die, if the service of love demands it – and it will. Ultimately, the disciples will see that the death of Jesus was the source of his greatest glory and power. "When I am lifted up from the earth [on the cross and into glory], I will draw everyone to me" (John 12:32).

Today's Gospel goes further than just asking us to understand why the glory of Jesus our King and Lord was to be found through suffering and the shameful death of the Cross. There is a further call for us to walk the same road with Jesus. "If anyone (not just the heroic martyr or the saint) wants to be a follower of mine, let him renounce himself and take up his cross and follow me." Jesus is asking each one of us to dedicate our lives in totally loving and serving others even if, at times, this involves misunderstanding, ridicule, pain and even death itself.

It would be altogether wrong to think that Jesus is asking us to lead miserable lives in order to be good Christians, although one gets the impression that some people interpret the passage in that way. To follow Jesus fully, we must be able to see life as he sees it, we must have that "mind of Christ".

When we have the mind of Christ then we can only see our lives in terms of loving and serving others and not in the pursuit of purely self-centred or even family-centred ambition. When we have the mind of Christ, the whole direction of our life changes. Our whole concept of happiness changes. Jesus is calling us not to a life of sacrifice and suffering but rather to a life of total love and freedom. The person who can go to jail for his beliefs is more free and usually a lot happier than the one who is tied to the pursuit of material things, social position, pleasure and the fear of pain.

"Renouncing oneself” is not a suppression of one's personality. It is rather to let go of oneself so that one can really find oneself.

This is what today's reading is saying, namely, that Jesus is calling us to where true success and happiness are. Maybe when we walk the way of Jesus there will be people who criticize us, think we are stupid and even attack us. Yet those who have chosen the way of Jesus again and again confirm that their lives are full of freedom, happiness and peace. Isn't that what we all would like to experience?

Peace and love,
Reverend Sue

"This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. " (1 John 4:9-10)

Saturday, August 27, 2011


Mission Statement

We will do no harm as we strive to improve the condition of the poor in Haiti. By empowering poor people with food, medicine, and the ability to get an attainable education, we will work to bring these goals to the attentions to whoever will listen. We will spread the news that together we can make a difference for the poor. We are challenged as religious people and as human beings to help those who have less or nothing. We will identify which medicines are needed for better health. We will identify what food is needed and try to get it there. We will identify who has the education skills but lack the resources to achieve their goals to make Haiti a better place to live. We will locate Haitians who want to be educated and turn their skills into making Haiti a better place in which to live.

If you would like to help us in this work, please visit our website:

You can help us make a difference in Haiti!

Peace and love,

Reverend Sue Provost

34 “Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. 35 For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, 36 I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’
37 “Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38 When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? 39 When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’
40 “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’ (Matthew 25:34-40)

Sunday, August 21, 2011

First Annual Wine and Cheese and Silent Auction Fundraiser

Dear Friends,

Our organization, The Friends of Haiti, Inc. would like to invite you to attend our first wine, cheese, and silent auction fundraiser being given on October 7 and 8, 2011 from 7PM to 10PM. The cost for the event is $35 per person.
The Friends of Haiti Inc. are dedicated to Haiti and its needs. We are a charity that supports education, specifically educating the people of Haiti. Our organization has decided to assist in the mission of helping to educate those Haitians who wish to become doctors and nurses. We have partnered with the University Notre Dame d*Haiti in Port au Prince, a medical university, to assist students who have found it difficult to pay their tuition. These students wish to give something back to their country, and it is a reality that Haiti needs good doctors and nurses. What better place to recruit needed medical help, than in Haiti itself?
In a country that has 60 to 70 percent unemployment, finding a job is very difficult. We feel strongly that we need to fight the circle of poverty for the next generation by helping to educate them. Unlike other professions in Haiti, there will always be jobs for doctors and nurses. So this is where we have placed our focus.
We have invited Mgr. Pierre Andre Pierre, Rector of the University Notre Dame d*Haiti, to be our guest speaker. We feel that your presence and participation in this fundraising effort will greatly enhance our ability to help many Haitian students who would not be able to attend the university without financial assistance.
It would be our great honor if you would agree to attend this function. We know that you can help us make a difference in helping Haiti. We have enclosed in this letter, information regarding the event. If you wish to attend, please cut off the bottom of the information sheet and mail it with your check to the address listed above.
We thank you for your kind attention to this invitation. Please consider attending and helping us with this fundraiser. Please call 702-561-4119 or 702-523-8963 for information regarding the locations for the event.

Rev. Susan Provost

"This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. " (1 John 4:9-10)

Take a leap of faith!

Gospel Mt 16:13-20

Jesus went into the region of Caesarea Philippi and
he asked his disciples,
"Who do people say that the Son of Man is?"
They replied, "Some say John the Baptist, others Elijah,
still others Jeremiah or one of the prophets."
He said to them, "But who do you say that I am?"
Simon Peter said in reply,
"You are the Christ, the Son of the living God."
Jesus said to him in reply,
"Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah.
For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my heavenly Father.
And so I say to you, you are Peter,
and upon this rock I will build my church,
and the gates of the netherworld shall not prevail against it.
I will give you the keys to the kingdom of heaven.
Whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven;
and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven."
Then he strictly ordered his disciples
to tell no one that he was the Christ.

Matthew presents a central moment in the life of Jesus and his disciples. Jesus asks his disciples who people say he is. At first they give the answers they've heard muttered in the streets. There were many opinions about Jesus' identity. Herod thought Jesus was John the Baptist returned to life (Matt. 14:2). The return of Elijah was expected to accompany the coming of God's kingdom. Others recognised the similarities between Jesus and the suffering prophet Jeremiah. Then Jesus asks not for popular speculations but for the disciples' own assessment. He pushes them to their own answer. He has waited a long time. He has allowed them to witness his works and given them access to his parables and stories. Now they must decide.

It is Peter who responds. He calls Jesus 'the Christ, the Son of the living God' (v. 16). He identifies him as the Messiah - the Hebrew word messiah, meaning 'anointed one', is equivalent to the Greek christos. Jesus is not just another prophet. He is the one for whom God's people have been waiting and longing. Jesus recognises that Peter's confession is a moment of genuine revelation, a revelation that can have come only from God.

Peter's judgement about Jesus is a decision of faith. We are not dealing simply with friendship or admiration. It is one thing to see Jesus as a good and holy person. It is quite another to see this good and holy person as a revelation of God. In order to recognise Jesus as the Son of the living God, Peter must have had some sense of who the living God is. It's because Jesus supremely corresponds to the image of God's anointed presented in Hebrew Scripture that Peter is able to make the leap of faith.

This leap of faith is something that can be made only with God's help. Humanity of itself can't know God. God is only known when he lets himself be known. And so Peter's recognition of Jesus as God's Son can be made only through God's revelation of himself. This is something that we can come to appreciate in our lives of faith too. We can spend hours in prayer and study of God's Word, but it is only through God's gracious revelation of himself to us that we can truly know him.

'Father, open my mind to recognize Jesus as the Lord of all, and to allow him to reign in my heart!

Peace and love,

Reverend Sue

"This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. " (1 John 4:9-10)

Saturday, August 6, 2011

The Friends of Haiti Wine and Cheese Silent Auction Fundraiser

Put the 7th or 8th of October on your calendar. Come join the Friends of Haiti fundraiser! 2 locations!
For Info contact Rev. Sue Provost for details

"This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. " (1 John 4:9-10)