Prepare for Sunday Mass: What are we missing?

Each week in OSV Newsweekly, Carl Olson provides a thoughtful, relevant reflection on the Mass readings for Sunday in his "Opening the Word" column. The following is just an excerpt, but you can read the entire column here.

From Carl Olson:

As Catholics, we often expect there to be conflict or tension between the Church and the world, whether it be in cultural, social or political realms. Yet the conflicts and tensions within the Church and among Catholics can be disconcerting. Why so many disagreements? And wasn’t it so much better in the early Church? The last question is especially interesting to me, for it seems as if most of us — myself included — can find ourselves longing for the “good ol’ days” of yesteryear, a golden age of harmony within the Church. Such a time, however, never really existed. And that, I suggest, is both to be expected and can be, in a way, a source of encouragement.

The story of the Transfiguration provides the foundation for this observation. What had happened just six days before this astonishing display of supernatural glory? Jesus asked the Twelve two questions: “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?” and “But who do you say that I am?” Peter, famously, spoke for the entire group: “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God” (Mt 16:13-16). With that important realization in place, 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.” To which Peter immediately responded with harsh words of rebuke: “God forbid, Lord! No such thing shall ever happen to you” (Mt 16:21-22).

The seriousness of Peter’s audacious remark was met with a scathing reprimand from Jesus: “Get behind me, Satan! You are an obstacle to me. You are thinking not as God does, but as human beings do” (Mt 16:23). Erasmo Leiva-Merikakis, in “Fire of Mercy, Heart of the Word” (Ignatius Press, $31.95), notes the statement “Peter took [Jesus] aside and began to rebuke him” was an attempt by Peter to “convert” Jesus to Peter’s “all-too-human ways.” But having preached the necessity of the cross and self-denial (Mt 16:24-28), it was Jesus who took the disciples along and “leads them upward, in the direction of God’s heavenly dwelling.”

Read Olson's entire column to prepare for Sunday Mass.

Jennifer Rey is the web editor of Our Sunday Visitor Publishing.