The Monastery of Christ in the Desert Homily for August 27 2008

I get every week a sneak preview of the sunday reading by getting an on line homily from the abbot of Christ in the Desert. The webaddress should you be intrested is http://christdesert.org

I wanted to share the sermon and readings as it really brought home the fact taht we can try and run from God but he will soon catch up and not let go of us.

It also reassured me by the reaction of Jeremiah. How often do we feel like that when the going gets tough and how often to we really want hid from sharing our faith? To me it also talks about being our selves and not conforming to what people think we should be as Christians.     

22nd Sunday of Ordinary Time 2008
Cycle A
2008

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,

The readings today speak strongly of the effects in our lives of trying to
follow God\’s will.  Following God\’s will sometimes sounds so very
wonderful and spiritual, but the reality can often be devastating.  We can
sometimes feel like the Prophet Jeremiah in the first reading:  You duped
me, O Lord, and I let myself be duped. 

The truth is that God wants us, completely and entirely, to be His.  We
often play games and give God just a part of us, and even that we don\’t do
so consistently.  But God knows us to the very core of our being—and loves
us.  God keeps pursuing us, inviting us to be with Him, to live His life,
to give ourselves entirely to Him. 

Even when we get tired of serving God, God remains faithful to being with
us.  We hear the Prophet Jeremiah\’s reaction against God.  The Prophet
understands deeply that even when he is angry at God and wants nothing to
do with God, God will still be at work and he, the Prophet, cannot resist
Him.

So often we think and feel that we are completely free.  In many ways we
are.  But we are never free of God\’s love.  God will continue to seek us
and to draw us to Himself as long as we live. 

The Gospel picks up the same theme as the reading from the Prophet
Jeremiah.  First we hear Jesus telling His followers very clearly:  I must
suffer and I will suffer.  Peter does not want this and protests.  Jesus
takes the opportunity to tell all of His followers:  If you want to be my
disciple, you must take up your cross each day and follow me.  There just
is no way in which we can follow the Lord Jesus and not suffer. 

The sufferings here are not necessarily those of martyrdom or anything
glorious.  Rather they are simply the sufferings of trying to do what is
right, trying to do the Lord\’s will, trying to be faithful.  Sometimes we
can find ourselves in a very comfortable place in our lives and then know
that God wants us to do something that will take away our comfort.  We
often resist this.  Sometimes it is just knowing that we must share what we
have with others.  Sometimes it is a certainty in our hearts that we do
something that will cost us dearly.

Each one of us has his or her own challenges.  As we grow in our faith, we
are able to make the decisions that keep us following the Lord rather than
our own comfort.  May the readings today and our celebration of the
Eucharist give us strength and courage to do all that the Lord asks of us.

Your brother in the Lord,
Abbot Philip, OSB

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