by Fr Kevin Waldie, SM
August 31: 22nd Sunday of Year: Readings: 1.
Jeremiah 20:7-9; Psalm 63; 2. Romans 12:1-2;
Gospel, Matthew 16:21-27.
In brief, this set of readings gets us thinking about the mystery of faith. Each author therefore turns the focus onto the extraordinary suffering and sacrifice demanded of those called the servants of God.
As an Old Testament prophet, Jeremiah’s task was never easy. And today in just three verses he voices a deep sense of the agony he experienced while speaking for God; that is, while confronting Israel in order to set it on the path of repentance.
References to being a laughing stock, to mockery and violence sum up the precise nature of the suffering he had to endure.
And yet despite all these negative feeling she believes himself to be consumed by the urgency of God’s message. Duty rightly demands that he fulfil his calling as God’s spokesperson.
Paul’s word of exhortation to the Romans works out of a similar understanding of the mission the Christian believer is called to carry out. Because sacrifice is integral to this mission, it requires a different way of thinking. Therefore, to be faithful to the will of God a believer must, as it were, tune in to the mind of God, to discern what ultimately transforms all life.
In Matthew, the Lord’s words are a sort of summary of this present but future orientation. And Jesus’ own suffering and death become the example every Christian disciple must imitate. Requiring faith, this particular view of the cross brings into relief just how necessary it is to be of like mind with Christ if we are to be saved from our human frailty and so reach a heavenly, eternal existence.
Dedication to the Lord and the demands of his Word are the substance of what lies at the heart of the mystery of faith that gives singular meaning to our ordinary lives.