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Saturday, August 29, 2020

Reflections 2020-08-30 22nd Sunday in Ordinary Time

Jeremiah 20:7-9; Psalm 63; Romans 12:1-2; Matthew 16:21-27
The First Reading shows Jeremiah complaining to God. He in fact tells God: You have enticed me, and I was enticed, have overpowered me and you have prevailed. Jeremiah has been proclaiming what God told him: to warn the people of the judgment to come. The result of this is not repentance from the people. Instead, they laugh at him and mock him. Because of this disappointment, Jeremiah tried to stop doing what God wants him to do and Jeremiah finds out this is also not possible: there is something like a burning fire shut up in my bones; I am weary with holding it in, and I cannot. Try as he might, Jeremiah finds he cannot rebel against God.
This is the situation for those who believe in Jesus. Those who believe in Jesus want to do God’s will. But as soon as they do it, they are met with opposition. Discouragement comes but sooner or later, God’s power drives us forward to do his will and we discover the discouragements strengthen our resolve. We learn to trust God in the midst of the disappointments and learn that God is greater than our discouragements.
Peter found this the hard way. After Jesus gave him the keys of the kingdom, Jesus tells his disciples he was going to be arrested, killed and will rise on the third day. With good intention, Peter told Jesus God forbid it Lord. Peter wanted only what is best for Jesus, but in return, Jesus turns back to him and scolds him: Get behind me Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; for you are thinking not as God does, but as humans do. One wonders how Peter felt after being scolded by Jesus. But we know Peter did not leave Jesus. He remained with Jesus even if he did not understand what Jesus meant. Peter learned the hard way that to be a disciple of Jesus, he must deny himself, take up his cross and follow Jesus. This is achieved by losing their life for the sake of Jesus. This is a call to constant dying to ourselves so we can follow Jesus.
Following Jesus is difficult. If anyone says it is not, that person is not telling the truth. Jesus compares this to dying on the cross. It is an excruciatingly painful process that drains all our blood until we die. This is also how it is to follow Jesus. It will be excruciatingly painful. It requires we empty our entire being. Our life, our ideas, our dreams, our fears. As we do this, we discover what the Psalm says: O God, you are my God, I seek you, my soul thirsts for you; my flesh faints for you; as in a dry and weary land without water. The pain, disappointments and discouragements we encounter as we follow Jesus purify us and reveal the errors in our perception. They force us to look at Jesus as he is. When we look at Jesus and pursue Jesus for who he is, then we can say as the psalmist: so I have looked upon you in the sanctuary, beholding your power and glory, because your steadfast love is better than life, my lips will praise you. We will praise Jesus only when we see him as he is, when we realize he is all we want and even in the midst of disappointments, he is still with us.
This is what St Paul means in the Second Reading that we need to be transformed by the renewing of our minds so we will discern the good and acceptable and perfect will of God. Disappointments come. We fail as we struggle to do God’s will. We lose heart. But then we realize, through all these, God is here and nothing else matters, because the safest place to be is in the hands of God.
Below is a link to a video on why I should follow Jesus even if we will continue to suffer.
Lord, I seek you, to know you as you are, to do your will as best I can. I know and expect to be disappointed. I know I will be discouraged. But Lord, transform me by renewing my mind, the way I think, the way I see things, so that I may know your good and acceptable and perfect will. Never leave me Lord Jesus, I trust in you.

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