Overcoming Trials To Live Victoriously
15th Sunday of Ordinary Time
Archbishop Loren Thomas Hines
September 12, 2021
Readings: Isaiah 50:4-9
James 2:1-5, 8-10, 14-18
We have been given challenges and instructions for the past Sundays on how to live the Godly life. Christ wanted us to bring into reality the potentials we have been given in our lives. God said, “I will take out the heart of stone and I will give you a new heart.” This is the rebirth. This is being “born again.”
In the Gospel today, Jesus is seen in Gentile territory on the far north. He starts ministering to the people. These people were waiting for a Messiah to come and save them. But they thought that the Messiah would come to destroy all their enemies and that only Israel would be saved to become the ruler of the world. “Who do the people say that I am?” Some say he was Moses, or He was Elijah. He then turned to His disciples and asked them, “who do you think that I am?” It was only Peter who replied, “You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God.” Jesus told them not to tell anyone. He continued to tell them that the Son of man will go through many sufferings. Peter couldn’t accept this and said he would not allow this to happen. Jesus had to rebuke him by saying, “get thee behind me, Satan.” It wasn’t Peter per se that Jesus was addressing as Satan. It was the fact that Peter was not using God’s understanding when he said these things but relying on his own human knowledge.
In our lives today, we like anything nice. We do not like problems. We want everything to be favorable. We are afraid of trials. But we need to go through trials in order to overcome. We become stronger each time we overcome an obstacle. We can be what God wants us to be. The Lord came to deliver us from the deception of destruction. When we live a life contrary to God’s ways, we will not live victoriously. We have to remind ourselves constantly that, “greater is He that is in you than he that is in the world.” Peter was thinking through his human understanding when God meant something else. We will live a life of sadness if we do not let Christ rise up within us.
Christ had to face all the temptations and trials in order to overcome. If we follow Christ, there will be times of testing. Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane had the make a tough decision in His life. It wasn’t easy for Him as He had to sweat drops of blood. He knew He was going to pay a price. He was going to face pain. But He was willing to take up the cross for us. In our lives, when we encounter difficulties, we should face the issues head on. It is in these trials that we can really prove who Christ is. He gave us life not to keep for ourselves but to give and share to others, letting them know about God’s love.
Our focus then, should be on the spiritual aspect of life in order to gain eternity. Our security comes from God. Are we willing to spend time in building His Kingdom? The Kingdom of God is everlasting – yet we spend more time and energy trying to build our own. All these things we try to accumulate are only temporary, but God’s Kingdom is eternal. Our relationship with Christ is the most important thing in the world. The “New Jerusalem’ had been described to be a place where the streets are of solid gold, and the river is perfectly clean.
In the midst of the Pandemic, we need to confess, turn away from evil ways, and turn to God. Only then will He heal our land. If we want to be part of His Kingdom, we must be prepared.
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