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Today’s readings can be found here. Read Fr. Epicoco’s brief reflections on the daily Mass readings, Monday through Saturday, here. For Sunday Mass reading commentary from Fr. Rytel-Andrianik, see here.
In today’s Gospel, two seemingly unrelated arguments come together. On the one hand, Jesus clearly says what his end will be, while the disciples timidly reject his words: “‘The Son of Man is to be betrayed into human hands, and they will kill him, and three days after being killed, he will rise again.’ But they did not understand what he was saying and were afraid to ask him.”
We do not understand the Cross until we go through it. Some things in life that can only be understood through experience. One cannot really explain love, just like one cannot fully explain what losing someone we loved feels like. These things can only be understood experientially.
The mystery of the Cross is about pain, death, darkness, loneliness. At the bottom of it all, the immense light of resurrection shines.
But talking about pain and death is often enough to discourage us even from asking whether the resurrection is true or not. We prefer not to think about it – it frightens us, it unsettles us. We prefer to work our way into safety, climbing the ladder all the way up until we become someone “important”: “He asked them, ‘What were you arguing about on the way?’ But they were silent, for on the way they had argued with one another who was the greatest.”
We all have different ways to avoid thinking about death. Some of us focus on money, some get obsessed with success, some engage in toxic relationships, some idolize their work. We could go on and on. But Jesus points to a different way: facing this fear by accepting that we cannot fight it. We face this fear not by playing “top of the class” but by being “the last of all and servant of all.”
Father Luigi Maria Epicoco is a priest of the Aquila Diocese and teaches Philosophy at the Pontifical Lateran University and at the ISSR ‘Fides et ratio,’ Aquila. He dedicates himself to preaching, especially for the formation of laity and religious, giving conferences, retreats and days of recollection. He has authored numerous books and articles. Since 2021, he has served as the Ecclesiastical Assistant in the Vatican Dicastery for Communication and columnist for the Vatican’s daily newspaper L’Osservatore Romano.