September 3, 2017 22nd Sunday in Ordinary Time Fr Jim Miller

Twenty-second Sunday in Ordinary Time
September 3, 2017

Reading 1 JER 20:7-9

Responsorial Psalm PS 63:2, 3-4, 5-6, 8-9

  1. (2b) My soul is thirsting for you, O Lord my God.

Reading 2 ROM 12:1-2

Alleluia CF. EPH 1:17-18

Gospel MT 16:21-27

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Homily— September 2 & 3

   We hear the prophet Jeremiah assessing his life and complaining that God has promised him a good life but being a prophet has brought him nothing but hardship and rejection.   He never wanted to be a prophet, but he was enticed by God who spoke tenderly, saying, “I formed you in the womb” (Jeremiah 1:5)  God promised:  “I am with you to deliver you . . . I will put my words into your mouth” (Jeremiah 1:8-9)

   Jeremiah fell for it.  He allowed God to work through him, and the people rejected him for proclaiming God’s word.  Jeremiah was miserable because he shared God’s fate.

   Jesus, of all people, could understand Jeremiah’s plight.  As God’s beloved, he not only spoke God’s word, he lived and breathed the Father’s care.  He gave of himself as bread to the hungry and moved through life as God’s hand outstretched to the rejected and needy.  He would be criticized, rejected and threatened by the powerful who would look for a way to silence him and they used the cross.

   In the Gospel Jesus talks about what is going to happen to Him.   We can assume that when Jesus talked about his impending suffering and death it was not to impress his disciples with his future-telling skills.  He was sharing his heart.  He wanted them to know and understand what he had discerned about God’s will for him.

   Bishop Robert Barron writes:  “When Jesus speaks of the trials he will undergo in the Holy City, Peter, shockingly enough, rebukes him.  It might be worthwhile to allow this image of the chief of the Apostles angrily remonstrating with the Lord to linger in your mind, for it is one of the clearest biblical images for sin.  Disciples listen to Jesus; sinners tell him what to do.  Disciples obey the Master; sinners correct him.

   In one of this very first speeches recorded in the Gospels, Jesus tells his followers, Metanoiete, which could be literally rendered as ‘go beyond the mind that you have’ or ‘change your way of thinking.’  In the wake of Peter’s rebuke, Jesus says something very similar, Get behind me, Satan!  You are thinking not as God does, but as human beings do.

   So what precisely is the difference between these two frames of reference?  To think in the human manner is to follow an instinct toward self-protection.  To think in the divine manner is to follow an instinct toward self-donation.  The old mind flees from the cross, but the new mind seeks it out.  Do we want to save our lives or do we want to give them away?  Everything that we say and do will be conditioned ultimately by the way in which we answer that fundamental question.”

   Peter’s response to Jesus’ plan seemed to make very good sense:  “God forbid!”  Peter was operating on the level of safety rather than salvation.  Unwittingly, he echoed the desert tempter whose every suggestion attempted to sway Jesus from being true to his vocation.  Jesus replied with the harsh retort: “Get behind me!”  Peter the “rock” was putting himself in Jesus path as a stumbling block, and Jesus will not fall for it.

   Before we make the mistake of looking down on Peter we need to ask ourselves some questions.  Have I ever stood in the way of the Lord?   Have I ever been an obstacle in God’s plan of salvation?  Have I caused others to stumble?  Do I relate to my faith in only human terms?  

   The Lord’s ways are not our own.  Jesus teaches that to truly live we must be willing to die.  We have to be willing to pick up a cross and follow him to Calvary and the grave.  Resurrection comes after death.  His disciples have to be willing to pass through the vale of tears to see the light on the other side.

   Think about the people who are willing to give of themselves for you.   I think of parents and spouses and maybe a good friend.   How can we be that person for others too?