Sunday August 30, 2020
22nd Sunday of the Year
The opening antiphon sets the theme for today’s readings. “O Lord, I cry to you all day long. O Lord, you are good and forgiving, full of mercy to all who call upon you.” Ps. 86: 3
Sometimes we call upon God when we are grateful. Other times we cry in sorrow and despair. Today we hear Jeremiah, Paul and Peter all crying out to God and to us.
I love Jeremiah’s honesty as he cries out, “You duped me O Lord and I let myself be duped.” Jeremiah had been pleading with the king and the people of Judea to repent. He was fed up with the people of Jerusalem and the idol Baal. He had been warning of the pending catastrophe, the destruction of Jerusalem and Babylonian exile in hopes of having the king and people transform their wicked ways. He had been scourged and placed in the stocks. He was tired of being abused and ridiculed. He was telling God,” I’ve had enough. I won’t be your spokesman any longer.” However, Jeremiah soon realized that he can’t keep God’s message a secret. He then cries out, “It becomes like a fire burning in my heart, imprisoned in my bones, I grow weary holding it in.” Jeremiah realized God’s love and mercy must be proclaimed.
What did Paul cry out to the Romans? “Do not conform yourself to this age but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that you may discern the will of God.” Knowing God’s love and forgiveness must permeate all aspects of their lives. Paul urges them to offer themselves completely to God so that God’s work can be fulfilled. They were being encouraged to be the prophets of their time.
Then we have the Gospel. I can really identify and empathize with Peter. In last Sunday’s Gospel when asked, ‘Who do you say I am?” Peter boldly proclaimed ,” You are the Christ, the son of the living God.” Jesus blessed Peter and announced that Peter was the rock on which He would build His church. Peter is promised the keys to the Kindom. Wow! Peter must have felt proud, encouraged and special. Just a few lines later everything is turned upside down.
Jesus tries to prepare the disciples for the reality of his suffering, death and resurrection that is to come. That is why they are going to Jerusalem. This was a total surprise and unthinkable outcome for the Messiah. Peter reacts impulsively, as usual, and cries out, “No that can’t be.” After all Peter and most of the Israelites believed the promised Messiah would be a great leader, who would triumphantly, gloriously and powerfully drive the Roman occupier out and restore the glory of Jerusalem. Peter was not able to envision or accept that Jesus, whom he had just claimed to be the Christ, the Messiah could possibly suffer and die. (I doubt he heard the part about resurrection. If he did hear that, I’m sure he didn’t have a clue what that meant.)
Immediately Jesus turns to Peter and exclaims, “Get behind me Satan”. Poor Peter! In a matter of minutes, he goes from being blessed to being cursed by Jesus. How could he be called the rock on which the church would be built and suddenly be Satan and an obstacle for Jesus’ mission? I’m sure Peter was dumbfounded, confused and embarrassed to be scolded by Jesus in front of the other disciples. I imagine Peter would cry out, “ Why do you say that Jesus? I’m only acting out of my love for you. I don’t want you to suffer or die. I need you to stay here with us just the way it is now.”
Jesus explains how the disciples, (which includes each of us), must be transformed. Whoever wishes to come after me must deny themselves, take up your cross and follow me. To follow Jesus would mean being transformed. To follow Jesus would demand that
a disciple be prophetic, and risk being ridiculed, suffer and yet be unable to keep the Good News a secret just as Jeremiah and the other prophets had in their lifetime. We know that Peter and the other disciples eventually were transformed. They did pick up their crosses and followed Jesus.
The question for each of us is, Are we being transformed? Are we living in daily conversion?
God, I/we cry out to have you help us to be the transformed disciples you have created us to be.
-Sister Jan Ginzkey, OSB