God Forbid!

God Forbid!

Greetings on this the Twenty-second Sunday in Ordinary Time

Readings: JER 20:7-9; PS 63:2, 3-4, 5-6, 8-9; ROM 12:1-2; MT 16:21-27

Note: The air conditioner is broken in the Church. So we have to limit our homilies to be very short as the temperature is very high and dangerous for human health. So my written notes will be short as well.

Jeremiah Laments

Jeremiah acknowledges the contradiction right off and blames the Lord for it.

You tricked me!

Well, if you have ever fed a baby who doesn’t want to eat you can relate to both the one feeding and the one eating. Jeremiah accuses the Lord of beguiling him.

He was seduced by the beauty of the divine word to speak but he recoils at the bitterness of the people’s reply which of course Jeremiah shares a version of that bitterness but for a different reason.

Even still, Jeremiah notes that so persuasive, so important, so high an imperative the word of the Lord is, he cannot contain it but must blurt it out.

Paul Advises

Elsewhere, Paul struggled in the body as we know from his writings. Some propose the problem is bodily weakness such as epilepsy and/or eye sight and/or old age. Never the less Jesus advised him to accept his insufficiency because his perfection comes from Jesus anyway. Just do what you should and the divine purpose will be fruitful.

In today’s reading Paul is focused on the body-spirit continuum. 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.

Paul makes known the priority for us is not the physical health of the body (lacking whether by deterioration or by misuse) but the perfection of the soul. Be a living sacrifice where we give up the inferior goods of the natural world for the superior good of being a living and holy sacrifice. Illness of the body is not an impediment to being holy and pleasing to God. The work of subordinating the natural bodily needs in harmony of the soul is work, but the holy work that pleases God.

Peter is Horrified

God forbid, Lord!

Now, one might think Peter is referring to Jesus alone. Maybe, maybe not. Maybe he is as much thinking of himself too. After all, where he goes and what happens to him happens to us.

To which Jesus replies, ‘Yep’. Or more exactly: You are thinking not as God does, but as human beings do.

Jeremiah had a problem thinking like God. Paul confessed the work of thinking like God. Peter did too.

Two Part Disconnect

We can describe the spiritual warfare this way:

  1. My body wants to do it but my soul says No!
  2. My soul wants to do it but my body says No!

I propose Jeremiah, Paul and Peter each describe a particular expression of these two contradictions.

There is a two part reply.

  1. The psalmist today’s reading helps us and is the first among the psalms: My soul is thirsting for you, O Lord my God. We cannot set aside an essential truth that we thirst and yearn for God more than all things. Every time we resist such a love we find ourselves in contradiction.
  2. Jesus offers new life. Perfected life. But the cost is to place the natural world’s good and goodness in a subordinate place and place the spiritual likeness of God in the higher priority.

It isn’t just because it is a good idea. It is a necessary idea, eternally.

Our calling, Our Answer

We account who we are by the decisions we make.

The Cross is the denying the body and listening to the deepest urgings of the soul. The soul is listening to Jesus and finds fulfillment in him alone.

Peace be with you,

Deacon Gerry

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