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August 30, 2017
Jesse’s deep Dominican connections
August 30, 2017

22nd Sunday OT (A)


Whey yuh tellin’ yuhself?

I’m always happy to leave the seminary to mingle with the people to hear their stories and enter into their lives for a bit. This helps me to see how God is working also in the lives of other believers. More so, it helps me to get a clearer picture of how things are.

One of the experiences I truly enjoy is hearing the new phrases and slangs that come up ever so often, during informal conversation with friends and family members. “Whey yuh tellin’ yuh self” is a nice phrase that helps to encapsulate this weekend’s Gospel message.

This idiomatic expression according to my sister is way of urging the person to reflect upon their utterances or actions. I find this phrase making sense in the happenings of the passage, since Peter started to remonstrate Jesus for saying what he said. If this incident took place in our time, Jesus would have probably used the phrase “Whey yuh tellin’ yuh self, Peter?”

The story of Peter is not quite different to our story. Since Peter’s ‘Jesus-image’ is one where suffering and hardship are not elements befitting a king and messiah. Peter, from his utterances, revealed to us that he couldn’t imagine Jesus being subjected to the scribes and chief priests and elders. Worse yet, he could not picture Jesus being put to death by the same group.

We find ourselves in a similar situation many times in our lives because we try to focus on one aspect of the Christian journey. We may find ourselves living an eternal Easter; never wanting to entertain any talk of suffering and hardships in our lives. We may find that we’re doomed to an eternal Lent when we are unable to enjoy the good things in life because we are caught up on the penance and suffering we face on the pilgrim journey.

This Gospel passage helps us to realise that the life of the Christian is filled with both suffering and hardship, ridicule by others followed by persecution on account of our faith, or for the mere fact that people may be envious of you.

But that’s not the final message of the Gospel. After all, it’s the Good News. It also shows us that joy cometh in the morning (Ps 30.5). I believe Peter missed this part of the Jesus’ words. He didn’t recognise that all this suffering and hardship alluded to will come to an end on the third day.

I believe that I commit this error as well when I feel down and out with the challenges of seminary life. When community life seems a bit too much to bear, my response is like Peter’s, wanting a conflict-free environment and a comfortable life in the seminary. Something I think would be a given, since after all, I am following the Lord in a radical way.

But this way of thinking is not in keeping with Jesus’ message of discipleship. He calls us to die to self and that, most times, means embracing suffering and hardship. It is in this embrace that we recognise the message of Jesus for us. That the resurrection comes after our time of suffering.

So, Jesus will ask us “whey yuh tellin yuh self?” We can’t expect to see life one sided. Life has many corners. The Gospel passage helps us to recognise those corners; long curves of hardships but also corners of resurrection and joy. It helps us to realise that we all will have our third-day experience. However, it comes after our days of hardship.

Our understanding of this concept helps us to make sense of the daily suffering people may face: that young friend of yours that has been diagnosed with cancer, or that neighbour whose son was gunned down, all experiences of hardship and suffering as we journey through life.

We trod on knowing that our third-day experience awaits us. We may not understand why the hardship befalls us, but its embrace may provoke in us a more fervent prayer to God and may also allow us to unite our hardships with that of Christ, making our journey one which makes present the Cross of Christ.

The experience would help us to live in solidarity with those who have waited long years for their third-day experience, one where they can be happy since they wouldn’t have laboured in vain. A day will come when we receive the reward that God has for us, one where Christ is indeed our all in all and we rejoice in seeing our Master who is pleased with our efforts of living.

So, I ask you today, “whey uh telling yuh self?”

The Gospel reflections for September are by local seminarians. Seminarian Kenwyn Sylvester is from Claxton Bay and is studying for the Archdiocese of Port of Spain.