The Gospel for today is one that I have read and heard many times. Sometimes familiarity, especially where Scripture is concerned, is not necessarily a good thing. It can be easy to simply glance over the words, thinking that we know what it says, no need for careful reading, or if we are hearing a familiar passage read at Mass, we listen with only half an ear.
But sometimes God prevents the familiar from becoming too familiar by drawing our attention to a particular phrase. Such was my experience this morning. While hearing the Gospel where Jesus asks the Apostles who the crowds, and more importantly, who they say He is, I was drawn to the second part of the passage where Jesus tells His Apostles that He must go to Jerusalem and suffer greatly. You know what happens next~ Peter acts as Peter does most often, but maybe even more so this time. He dares to tell His Master that this could never be.
Jesus didn't say He should go to Jerusalem, or maybe I might end up in Jerusalem; He said I must go to Jerusalem. Jesus, being in total conformity with His Father's will, was able to face Jerusalem and all that awaited Him there.
This got me thinking about our own lives. Each of us in the course of our lifetimes may have small Jerusalems to face~those difficult, but in the grand scheme of things, rather small trials that we need to deal with. We may also have bigger Jerusalems to face~ a terminal illness, or the death of someone close to us. Eventually we will all face the final Jerusalem that will lead us to our heavenly home.
My thoughts in all of this led me to the question: How was Jesus able to face Jerusalem and all that would happen to Him there? The answer came quite immediately~ He saw beyond it. His Apostles could not, which is why Jesus told Peter that He was thinking as man does, not as God does.
As difficult as the trials of life are, and as difficult as our own death is to think about, if we look beyond to what awaits us if we conform our wills to God's just as Jesus did, if we think as God does and not as human beings do, we too can face our Jerusalem.
I believe this is the grace given to the martyrs. Their faith in God's promises helped them to see beyond what awaited them at the guillotine, the gas chamber, the rack or any other instrument of torture and death.
The Church celebrates today, the memorial of St Teresa Benedicta of the Cross (Edith Stein). She died a martyr's death in Auschwitz during World War II. She saw Jerusalem clearly in front of her, but saw beyond it to the glorious life that awaited her in heaven.
Jesus did this, the martyrs did this, and so must we.
The things of this earth, the good and the bad, are fleeting compared to what God has prepared for those who love Him.