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Daily Devotional for November 18

November 18                                              Matthew 16:21-28

          "If any would come after me, let them deny
     themselves and take up their cross and follow me."

Today's Gospel invites us to embrace the suffering that comes
into our lives as part of our faith journey. Now that the disciples
recognize who Jesus is, he pierces to the core the mystery of
his own identity as the one who will reveal the meaning and
purpose of life through his suffering, death, and Resurrection.

The disciples are incredulous. Yesterday's "rock," full of faith,
becomes today's "stumbling block," full of doubt: "God, who
is good, would never raise up the Messiah and then allow him
to suffer and die!"

Jesus responds: "From a human perspective, Peter, you are
correct; from a faith perspective, however, you have it
backwards. Perhaps God would not raise up the Messiah and
then allow him to die, but God would allow the Messiah to
die and then raise him up!" In other words, suffering and death
are not ends in themselves, but means to enter into a transfor-
mation process that ultimately issues in newness of life.

We are all a little like Peter: in the face of pain and suffering
we want to run. This does not mean that we are bad, it just
means that we are human. And yet, Jesus invites us to believe
that, just as he emerged transformed from his passion and death,
so the suffering that enters our lives is a path by which we are
daily transformed into a deeper expression of ourselves, until
that final transformation which takes place in death. He
therefore not only prophesies about his own passion, death,
and Resurrection, but he invites us to enter that pattern of salva-
tion ourselves: If you wish to come after me, then deny yourself
and take up your cross and follow me.

From The Road to Emmaus - An inclusive devotional Edited by Joseph W. Houle

Emmaus House of Prayer - Washington D.C.

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