Click here if you don’t see subscription options
Jaime L. WatersJuly 17, 2020

Today’s readings continue to help us discern good leaders in our midst. The readings reveal the risks of speaking out against corruption, the importance of thoughtfulness, the dangers of misunderstanding and the necessity of selflessness.

Be transformed by the renewal of your mind. (Rom 12.2) 

Liturgical day
Twenty-second Sunday in Ordinary Time (A)
Jer 20:7-9; Ps 63; Rom 12:1-2; Mt 16:21-27

Do you recognize the importance of thoughtful leadership?

Are you willing to adjust your own thinking for the betterment of society?

On multiple occasions, the prophet Jeremiah laments his prophetic office, particularly because of his community’s reaction to his word. He cries out, “I am an object of laughter; everyone mocks me,” because people reject him for proclaiming ominous prophecies about current and future destruction. Jeremiah bemoans his calling because it is difficult to deliver messages that people do not want to hear. This risk persists today. Many people want to hear only positive, agreeable messages, even when there are difficult issues that need to be addressed and remedied.

While he is sometimes reluctant about his calling, Jeremiah also declares the importance of his speaking the truth, recognizing that it is painful and exhausting to withhold his prophetic messages. We can learn from Jeremiah’s inner conflict. It is necessary to speak out against corruption, even at the risk of upsetting people who would rather not deal with the pressing issues of the day.

The second reading from Paul’s Letter to the Romans is a reminder of critical thinking. Paul tells the Romans to transform their way of thinking in order to discern God’s will. It is important to be informed thinkers and voters, especially as we make critical decisions in the near future.

Finally, today’s Gospel builds on the topic of authority. Last week, we heard about Jesus giving Peter authority because of his understanding of Jesus’ divinity. Yet soon after receiving the “keys to the kingdom of heaven,” Peter missteps. In today’s Gospel, Jesus predicts his Passion for the first time, revealing that he would suffer greatly, be killed and rise from the dead. Peter declares that this must not happen. Although Peter’s rebuttal could show his devotion, Jesus harshly rebukes him: “Get behind me, Satan! You are an obstacle to me. You are thinking not as God does, but as human beings do.”

Jesus criticizes Peter for failing to understand God’s plan. Like Jeremiah, Jesus delivers a message that is upsetting and difficult for people to process. Peter’s angry reaction mirrors that of Jeremiah’s community, which refused to recognize impending destruction.

Jesus then explains the implications of being one of his followers. It is a difficult but rewarding task that requires selflessness and suffering, although the reward will be eternal life. Self-denial was important for the early followers of Christ so that they could prepare themselves for the challenges they would face on account of their faith.

Good leaders show their selflessness by putting the needs of others ahead of their own. Scripture reveals the importance of openness to hearing the truth and the necessity of thinking critically about who is given power. We need leaders who fully recognize the implications of holding office and who demonstrate a commitment to serving others ahead of themselves.

We don’t have comments turned on everywhere anymore. We have recently relaunched the commenting experience at America and are aiming for a more focused commenting experience with better moderation by opening comments on a select number of articles each day.

But we still want your feedback. You can join the conversation about this article with us in social media on Twitter or Facebook, or in one of our Facebook discussion groups for various topics.

Or send us feedback on this article with one of the options below:

We welcome and read all letters to the editor but, due to the volume received, cannot guarantee a response.

In order to be considered for publication, letters should be brief (around 200 words or less) and include the author’s name and geographic location. Letters may be edited for length and clarity.

We open comments only on select articles so that we can provide a focused and well-moderated discussion on interesting topics. If you think this article provides the opportunity for such a discussion, please let us know what you'd like to talk about, or what interesting question you think readers might want to respond to.

If we decide to open comments on this article, we will email you to let you know.

If you have a message for the author, we will do our best to pass it along. Note that if the article is from a wire service such as Catholic News Service, Religion News Service, or the Associated Press, we will not have direct contact information for the author. We cannot guarantee a response from any author.

We welcome any information that will help us improve the factual accuracy of this piece. Thank you.

Please consult our Contact Us page for other options to reach us.

City and state/province, or if outside Canada or the U.S., city and country. 
When you click submit, this article page will reload. You should see a message at the top of the reloaded page confirming that your feedback has been received.

The latest from america

May 19, 2024, Pentecost Sunday: A critical test of faith is that Christ’s disciples understand one another. That is only possible through constant forgiveness and trust that the Spirit works among all the faithful. 
May 12, 2024, the Solemnity of the Ascension of the Lord: This is a sacred image of church: All people understand each other through the Spirit, even if only for a brief moment.
May 5, 2024, Sixth Sunday of Easter: The trajectory of Peter’s lifelong conversion, as he follows the mission entrusted to him, is a constant reminder of the gift of God’s self-revelation to all peoples.
April 28, 2024, Fifth Sunday of Easter: The readings invite the faithful to pause this week and bring peace into the world through prayer and through intimacy with the Lord.
Victor Cancino, S.J.April 24, 2024