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SeventeenthSunday after Pentecost

Today's Focus: The Cross is the Consequence of Confessing Christ   Peter was absolutely right when he said to Jesus, "You are the Messiah" (Gospel). But Peter did not understand the consequences of that truth, either for Jesus or for Peter himself. For Jesus, the fact that he was the Messiah meant that he would be rejected and killed. For Peter, his confession of Jesus as Messiah meant that he would have to carry a cross.  Peter did not understand at the time. But later, when he wrote his first letter, Peter understood: "If you are insulted because of the name of Christ, you are blessed" (Second Lesson).

Sixteenth Sunday after Pentecost

Today's Focus: Jesus Has Compassion for Our Suffering   Our Lord Jesus cares about human suffering. We see that in the personal care which he gives to "the man who was deaf and could hardly talk." We see that in the power that Jesus gave to Peter and John in order to heal the lame man (Second Lesson). Jesus also cares about our suffering. On the Last day eh will come back and cure whatever is ailing us.

Fifteenth Sunday after Pentecost

Today's Focus:  Lord, Give Me a Heart to Obey Your Commandments   Like a skillful doctor diagnosing a problem, Jesus identifies our hearts as the source of our sin. "For it is from within, out of a person's heart, that evil thoughts come." Just like the Pharisees, we might seem very religious outwardly, but if we look closely at the sins Jesus lists in the Gospel lesson and if we look closely at our own hearts, we will see that we too are defiled. But in his mercy God "chose to give us birth through the word of truth" (Second Lesson). And with that new birth he gave us a new and clean heart which delights in keeping his commandments.

Fourteenth Sunday after Pentecost

Today's Focus: Jesus' Words are Difficult but they Give Life  Sometimes Jesus' teacfhings conflict with our own thinking. This should not surprise us. Of course Jesus' words are going to conflict with the thinking of our flesh (our sinful natures). Today Jesus reminds us that "the flesh counts for nothing. The words I spoken to you [even the words that are hard to accept] are full of Spirit and life" (Gospel). Even when Jesus' teachings are hard to accept, let's say with Peter, "Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life" (Gospel).