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Sept 03, 2017

Homily for the 22nd Sunday of Ordinary  Time-Cycle A–2017

 

FIRST READING  Jeremiah 20:7-9

You duped me, O Lord, and I let myself be duped; you were too strong for me, and you triumphed.  All the day I am an object of laughter; everyone mocks me.  Whenever I speak, I must cry out, violence and outrage is my  message; the word of the Lord has brought me derision and  reproach all the day.  I say to myself, I will not mention  him, I will speak in his name no more.  But then it becomes  like fire burning in my heart, imprisoned in my bones; I  grow weary holding it in, I cannot endure it.

SECOND READING        Romans 12:1-2

I urge you, brothers and sisters, by the mercies of God, to offer your bodies as a living  sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God, your spiritual worship. Do not conform yourselves to this age but be transformed  by the renewal of your mind, that you may discern what is  the will of God, what is good and pleasing and perfect.

GOSPEL       Matthew 16:21-27

Jesus began to show his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer greatly from the elders,  the chief priests, and the scribes, and be killed and on the  third day be raised.  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.”  Then  Jesus said to his disciples, “Whoever wishes to come after  me must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me.  For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but  whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.  What  profit would there be for one to gain the whole world and  forfeit his life?  Or what can one give in exchange for his  life?  For the Son of Man will come with his angels in his  Father’s glory, and then he will repay all according to  his conduct.”

My sisters and brothers in Christ,

“His name becomes like fire burning in my heart”—this is from our first reading today, from  the Prophet Jeremiah.  God pursues us just as God pursued  the Prophet Jeremiah.  Often we do not realize this because  we pay no attention to God.  Today we are invited to pay  attention to God and to know more profoundly how much God  loves us and wants us to love Him.

The second reading today is from the Letter to the Romans.  Now we are invited to “be  transformed by the renewal of your mind.”  This can help  us understand that we cannot know God’s love for us unless  we take time to think about God and to listen to God’s  words to us.  So many of us do not take the time to read  the Bible, the Holy Scriptures, every day.  Instead we  remain like little children who have no education and only  want to play!  God invites us to take Him seriously and to  begin to read His word in the Bible and to let that word  form our lives.

Today’s Gospel, from Saint Matthew, tells us about the relationship of Jesus with His  followers.  Peter does not want Jesus to suffer.  None of  us wants others to suffer, for the most part.  Yet a human  life lived in a way only to avoid suffering is a wasted  life.  Instead, Jesus invites us to follow Him and to  accept the suffering that come with that following.

Jesus tells us in strong words: “Whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself, take  up his cross, and follow me.”  Clearly it is not natural  for us to want the cross or to follow someone who will lead  us into suffering.  Nevertheless, Jesus invites us to know  what life really is by following Him.

If we follow the Lord, we will suffer.  We will become like the Prophet Jeremiah and  complain that following God makes us suffer.  We will be  like Saint Paul in recognizing that we must be transformed  by the renewal of our minds.  In the midst of all of this,  the name of God can become like fire burning in our hearts  and allowing us to rejoice in this life, even in the  sufferings, because we are loved by God and know that in  following Him, we are returning His love.

Your brother in the Lord,

Abbot Philip