Bulletin: August 30, 2020
Twenty-second Sunday in Ordinary Time
We are invited to reflect on the path of discipleship offered by Jesus in our readings today. Jesus, now seen by the disciples as Messiah and Christ, begins to describe most fully what this means: he will not march into Jerusalem filled with God’s power like a conquering general. His path is like that of Jeremiah; he will be rejected and mocked. His path is like that described by Paul, offering his body as a living sacrifice. Jesus summons his followers down the same path of death and resurrection, to live the radical paradox that “whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.” Loving and trusting God will entail self-surrender, leading us to joy in service to others. We will learn to let go of what we desire and what we think we need, trusting God to provide what we truly need.
It seems that Jesus is pretty hard on Peter in today’s Gospel, when he calls him “Satan” for questioning Jesus’ prediction of his passion. The scene echoes Matthew’s story of the temptations of Jesus (4:1–11) when Jesus encounters Satan, also called the “tempter.” Satan had sought to draw Jesus into thinking about his own needs instead of attending to God’s purposes. Peter was an unwitting tempter, anxiously reacting out of his own fears and misunderstanding.
This story speaks about Jesus’ identity and vocation, and also about our own. As God’s beloved, sent out to witness to the gospel, we are offered a foundation and a purpose to our lives. There is much in life that tempts us, stirs up false fears, or draws us to the attractive but superficial. Jesus provides us a way forward. He named the temptations that he faced, so they had no power over him. As he followed his path, he placed his full trust in his Father.
GOD OF DIALOGUE
Our reading from Jeremiah contains some of the harshest language you will find in the Bible toward God. In despair and fury, Jeremiah accuses God of deceiving and abusing him. He pours out his rage at God for ruining his life. He wants to quit God, but finds it impossible. In later verses, he alternates between giving thanks to God and wishing he had never been born. Remarkably, after all this, Jeremiah resumes his prophetic ministry.
As with Abraham (Genesis 18), Moses (Exodus 32), Job, and various psalms, Jeremiah pushes back against God. God receives and blesses their prayer, and their relationship is stronger for it. Our God is a God of dialogue, who encourages us to speak our mind and heart in full honesty. Our Trinitarian God is in eternal conversation within God’s self, and with all of creation. God invites honest dialogue, always grounded in love, within God’s Church, and between the Church and the world.