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Association of the Miraculous Medal
Gospel Reflections for September 3

Besides her great privilege of being the Mother of God, Mary was also her Son’s first disciple. She is often called the Model, or Exemplar of the Church. Following her example, we walk with her through the Gospels as we reflect on her response to God in her life.

September 3, 2017 — Twenty-Second Sunday in Ordinary Time

Matthew 16:21-27
 Father Oscar Lukefahr, C.M.

Jim needed an emergency appendectomy. He complained to the doctor, a good friend, “When God gave us an appendix, there must have been some reason for it.” “There is,” replied the doc, “God gave you that appendix to help me put my son through college.” The doctor had a sense of humor, but suffering isn’t funny. It comes to all, even to the Son of God, who proclaims in today’s Gospel that he must suffer, and that we must take up our cross and follow him.

How can we make sense of suffering? The answer is linked to human freedom. God is love, and God made us for love. This requires freedom because it can’t be forced. Freedom means we can say yes or no to God. God gave us wonderful talents to use for good. But down through the ages, some people have used those talents for evil purposes.

God allows it for the sake of freedom. But God doesn’t ignore us. Jesus took upon himself the suffering of the world. He carried his cross so we could have his help in carrying ours. As today’s Gospel shows, Jesus was willing to suffer even when Peter said he shouldn’t. And when we join our sufferings to Christ’s, he can do wonderful things for us.

Mary Beth was a lovely teenager who worked hard to help underprivileged children ... while she was dying of cancer. Her motto was: “Life is short. Laugh hard!” Her courage and good humor in suffering brought God’s love to many. I’m sure she’s in heaven, (promised by Jesus in today’s Gospel), with a new motto: “Life here is forever. Laugh really hard!!”

Mary Beth demonstrates how we can offer our sufferings in union with Christ’s to help others, and gain eternal joy. Mary Beth’s patterned her life on our blessed Mother, Mary, who suffered with Jesus and offered her suffering for others. So can we.

Why appendicitis? Why suffering? Not to send some doctor’s son to college, but because we live in a world where God’s gift of freedom is misused. We can’t change the whole world. But we can draw close to Jesus and unite our sufferings. And we can remember Mary Beth’s new motto: “Life in heaven is forever. Laugh really hard!”


Read last week's reflection.