Reflection on 22nd Sunday: 30th August 2020

Our True Self

On our spiritual journey we often take 3 steps forward and two (or more!) steps backward. This is clearly illustrated in the character of St. Peter. In last week’s gospel Peter has an epiphany of who Jesus is: the Christ, the anointed one, the Divine Presence which pervades all creation. His profession of faith reveals a deep understanding of the Christ Mystery. When in today’s gospel Peter refuses to believe in Jesus’ predictions of his suffering and death, he shows that his way of thinking is no longer God’s way. Jesus then tells Peter that in order to fully participate in the Christ Mystery, we need to “lose our self to find our self.” Jesus said this very clearly in several different settings.

Many spiritual writers speak of the false self and the True Self. The false self is who we think we are but thinking doesn’t make it so. The false self dies and passes away. Yet it is the raw material through which we discover our True Self in God. And who we are in God is who we are. And who we are in God will live forever. Life is not a matter of creating a special name for ourselves, but of uncovering the name we have always had. Some form of suffering or death—psychological, spiritual, relational, or physical—is the only way we will loosen our ties to our false self and surrender ourselves to the process of transformation into our true self. We will then discover that the true self is who we already were all along, but we didn’t know it. We didn’t know how to live consciously out of that deep place of union. If we’re living from the true self, we’re going to live from connection and communion with God, with everyone, with everything.

Richard Rohr

We shall not cease from exploration
And the end of all our exploring
Will be to arrive where we started
And know the place for the first time.

T.S. Eliot

Gospel: Matthew 16:21-27

The disciple of Jesus must also follow the way of suffering and self-renunciation

Jesus began to show his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and undergo great suffering at the hands of the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised. And Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him, saying, “God forbid it, Lord! This must never happen to you. ” But he turned and said to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; for you are setting your mind not on divine things but on human things. ” Then Jesus told his disciples, “If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake will find it. For what will it profit them if they gain the whole world but forfeit their life? Or what will they give in return for their life? “For the Son of Man is to come with his angels in the glory of his Father, and then he will repay everyone for what has been done.