8/31/08

Do not conform yourselves to this age...


Image by Scripture Pics

Homily for the Twenty-second Sunday in Ordinary Time
Jeremiah 20:7-9
Romans 12:1-2
Matthew 16:21-27


This is a difficult weekend for preachers.
Not only because of the hard sayings in today’s scripture,
but also because of the contemporary cultural context
in which we hear them.

Over the past week the presidential and vice-presidential candidates
have promised us more in the next four years
than Jesus promises us in eternity:
- lower taxes, money in our bank accounts
- the cure for all diseases
- justice and equality for all
- and world peace!

By contrast, if Jesus were running for president:
his platform would be - the Cross.
And he wouldn’t be promising to take it away from us.
Instead, he’d be inviting us to pick it up, and carry it
and while we’re carrying it,
to take care not to conform ourselves to the culture around us.

Instead, he would invite us to a renewal of our minds,
so that we can see more clearly what is good, true, just
- and pleasing to God.

If this sounds like a hard line – it’s because it is a hard line.
- and not one we necessarily want to hear.
Peter didn’t want to hear it.
When Jesus spoke to him about the Cross,
Peter pulled him aside and told him,
“Hey! Ease up on that stuff: it’s not what people want to hear!”

Jeremiah didn’t want to hear it either.
The people of his time had forgotten God,
conforming themselves to the culture and its idols.
Jeremiah, a faithful prophet, railed against this.
And his reward?
He became an object of derision, mockery and scorn.
And so he cries out,
“You duped me, Lord! And I let myself be duped!”

Sometimes we’re react like Jeremiah and Peter.
We expect that in return for being faithful,
good things and good times will come our way,
and when they don’t, we might feel duped by God –
or at least confused and disappointed.

Jesus himself might have laid claim to such feelings.
He faithfully preached the kingdom of his Father’s mercy –
and what was his reward? The Cross.

It’s amazing that we who claim to want to follow Christ are surprised
when the path we walk turns out to be the way of the Cross.

Our attention will be captured for the next two months by the election
and the decisions we, as voters, will be making.
Today’s scriptures might prompt a few questions…

- How do I walk the path of Christ,
faithful to the truth of the Cross,
as I make our way towards November 4th?

- As I study social issues and concerns facing the nation and the world,
how have I been conformed to this age and its morality?
Do I have a solid grasp of what is truly good?
What cultural realities have seduced me?
How might my heart and mind be in need of renewal?

- As I listen to opposing parties and candidates arguing for my support,
how do I discern the truth in what I hear and read?
How do I discern between what is false and what is true?
Do I know what’s pleasing to God? And if I do –
what difference does that make in my political choices?

- Even the money in my pockets reminds me that We Trust in God.
How will my trust in God shape my decisions on November 4th?

If you read in any of the above some hint of who I'll vote for,
please let me know - because I don't know yet myself!

The only platform I'm pushing here is the platform of the Cross.
The Cross is the platform of God’s truth and we are called,
each of us, to live by that truth.

We began our prayer this morning by tracing on ourselves
the sign of the Cross,
marking our bodies as offerings for spiritual worship.
God’s word is proclaimed at the foot of the Cross
and its shadow hovers over the table of Eucharist.
May our Communion we share in this bread and cup
be food for the renewal of our minds and hearts
that our choices and decisions might be good and pleasing
in the eyes of God.

-ConcordPastor

5 comments:

Anonymous said...

I went to the 5 PM so I didn't hear you give your homily. I just had a chance to read it and I hope and pray that you didn't mean that you don't know yet who you will vote for. My faith is truly shaken.

ConcordPastor said...

Is your faith shaken because:

- it seems I might vote for the Republican candidate? because I might vote for the Democrat candidate?

- it seems that I might vote for a candidate other than the two from the major parties?

- it seems I might take a ballot and then not vote for any candidate?

- it seems I might not go to vote at all?

- it seems I'm being thoughtful about voting?

Anonymous said...

If after the last almost eight years of George Bush and Co. you are not certain of your vote in November, I just don't know what to say other than I am very disappointed.

e said...

I admit I am probably the last person on earth who should comment on this, but I can fully understand- and relate to- one's indecisiveness and confusion about this topic.

mary said...

I think most people out here are with you "e". It's a very unusual race. I have no idea who to vote for at this point. But I will pay close attention!