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contemporary reflections on the sunday readings

Dr. Elizabeth-Anne Stewart

From 1986-July 2005, my scripture reflections appeared each Sunday in Living Faith, a quarterly publication with a subscription base of over half a million readers. In addition, thousands of others read my reflections in Catholic and Protestant church bulletins from Houston, USA, to Mooi River, South Africa; they were used by homilists, chaplains, and "ordinary people" in such settings as churches, hospitals, prisons, nursing homes, university campuses and family living rooms. Commenting on my work, Editor Mark Neilsen stated, "No writer of Living Faith has been more prolific, more creative and more original than you have been over the years. It has been a great run, a fantastic effort...."

In 2005, in response to letters from readers across the globe who missed my work in Living Faith, I launched Sunday BibleTalk , an online bible service which features contemporary reflections on every Sunday's Gospel reading.

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You may reproduce my work in parish bulletins and newsletters provided 1) you reproduce my words accurately and exactly, without any form of modification 2) you give me credit, listing my full name (Elizabeth-Anne Stewart) and my website (


Sunday, September 3rd, 2017

Then Peter took Jesus aside and began to rebuke him,
"God forbid, Lord! No such thing shall ever happen to you." 
He turned and said to Peter,
"Get behind me, Satan! You are an obstacle to me. 
You are thinking not as God does, but as human beings do."
MT 16:21-27

"Don't go!," begged his wife; "It's too dangerous out there!" But Sgt. Steve Perez, 60, insisted on leaving the house, despite the rising flood waters. "We got work to do!" he said. Shortly afterwards, he was swept away in his patrol car.

"You've done enough! Stay home!" urged the relatives of a group of volunteers who had already rescued the members of two families. "No, we have to go back! There's a lot of people in danger," was their reply. Shortly afterwards, they lost control of their boat in strong currents and drifted into power lines. Two fatalities, two missing in action, three survivors......

Sometimes, Life calls us to sacrifice self-interest for the sake of the common good. Sgt. Perez and the group of volunteers didn't know that they were going to die this week; nor were they on a suicide mission. However, they knew the risks they were taking and placed service before personal safety. Moreover, they were willing to ignore the pleas of their loved ones to respond to the call they were answering. Nothing was more important than answering this call; in all likelihood, they would have been unable to live with themselves had they simply stayed home.

The relatives in both tragedies tried to hold their loved-ones back, just as Peter tried to hold Jesus back from going to Jerusalem. They knew the price their loved-ones might pay and wanted to protect them from all harm. But such protection can be contrary to God's call. Jesus, in fact, rebukes Peter, even calling him "Satan" or "the Tempter." Of course, it would have been easier to head back to the hills of Galilee and avoid Jerusalem altogether, just as it would have been easier for Sgt. Perez and the volunteers to stay on dry ground.

When we hear God's call to heroic service, our response may look like foolishness to others, but, from God's perspective, we are saints not fools.

How have you or your loved ones been affected by Hurricane Harvey?
How have you responded to this calamity through your actions, donations or prayers?
Have you ever had to take personal risks for the sake of another?​