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Is the Church an obstacle?

22nd Sunday in Ordinary Time

“You are an obstacle in my way, because these thoughts of yours don’t come from God, but from human nature.” (Mt. 16:21-27)

How often have we heard the rebuke of “Get behind me Satan?” How often do we connect it to the major concern that was on the heart of Jesus? The Redeemer was attempting to guide His inner circle about the price and cost of discipleship. The discussion of suffering and death was on the table. Christ understood that to get to the other side of the mission for whence He was called- that He would have to go through some things. As Jesus begins to prepare the disciples on how to withstand the suffering and even death, His disciples were not listening, nor were they interested in the Lord’s mission. They had their own agenda.

The interesting part of this Scripture also presents some insight as to who it was that the Master Teacher- had to contend with. It was not the Romans or the Gentiles and not even the Samaritans. It was His very own faith community. The Elders, Chief Priests and the Teachers of the Law were the contentious groups that had sought to thwart the mission. Today we might think of them as our parish council leadership, the pastor and maybe even some archbishops.

“I must suffer much!” Can you imagine- He who sought to clothe the naked, feed the hungry, heal the sick and provide freedom from oppression– was being set upon by those who should have recognized the mission as being the will of God. Even to the point of death- Jesus was committed to the truth! He did not falter even when all those around him – were more focused on their agenda as opposed to the beck and call of the Almighty!

Even today we have these very same heartbreaking experiences within our faith communities. Suffering and death are the daily experiences. Injustice and oppression challenge the sanctity and human dignity of far too many lives- of Peoples of Color. The people gather seeking justice that we might live in peace. The suffering and even the threat of death has not deterred those committed to the truth from crying out for their very lives. They have chosen to pick up the cross of Social Justice to further the mission of the Gospel- even at the risk to their own lives. They have made a living sacrifice of themselves even as they hear far too many in the church hierarchy respond- Black Lives Matter- God forbid it!

We are at the crossroads! What will our church choose? Will it serve the mission of Jesus for God’s Sake?

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways”, declares the Lord Isaiah 55:89

Author: Dr. Valerie D. Lewis-Mosley

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