Sunday, September 13, 2009
Homily for the 24th Sunday in Ordinary Time
I wonder if we can all agree that it would be a good thing
if you - and I - and God - were all in agreement
on how we think about things --
how we think about life and the world we live in.
Of course, to come to that agreement,
we’d need to actually know what God thinks
and be equally clear on what we really think.
A starting point might be the question,
“Do we, indeed, care about what God thinks?”
“If there’s a difference between what God thinks
and what we think: does that difference matter?
What difference, if any, does it make in how we live?"
Or in other words,
“Do God’s thoughts about our lives
carry any more weight than our own thoughts?
Is God’s view of life more trustworthy than ours?”
And if we can acknowledge the possibility that maybe,
just maybe, God knows more than we do --
are we willing then, ready
to let go our own position and agree with God?
All this is what Jesus is getting at when he says to Peter,
You are thinking not as God does, but as human beings do.
So, Jesus seems to think there’s a gap
between God’s thoughts and our own.
And that’s the heart of the matter, it’s where we need to begin.
Of course we could start by arguing some hot button issue.
But if we start there we miss the point and will meet a dead end.
In fact, I'll bet some of you have already fast-forwarded to your
favorite hot button issue -
or your wondering what issue I'm trying to get at it.
Before we get to the difficult issues,
we need to know just how open we are
to scripture, Jesus and the Church,
- to God’s thoughts shaping our own thoughts.
The popular alternative is to simply claim
that the bible, Jesus and the Church
are just hopelessly outdated and old fashioned
and need to change and adapt to how people live and think today.
“How people think today… how human beings think…”
There’s the gap again between God's thoughts and ours
and there’s why we need to go back and ask
“If there’s a difference between how God thinks and how we think,
what difference does that make and how do we arrive at the truth?”
We should notice that what Jesus says to Peter here
follows on the prediction of the Lord’s suffering and death
-- which Peter cannot accept.
There’s a clue in that scene worthy of our attention.
When we think as God does, when we accept God’s truth as our own,
the Cross is both the price and the reward of that acceptance.
Those who wish to follow me must deny themselves,
take up their cross and follow me…
Because God and human beings think about things differently,
there is a cost in accepting the Lord’s truth as our own.
But the Cross is not only a sign of sacrifice.
As is so often the case, it’s in the burdens of sacrifice
that our deepest joys and most profound peace find their source.
In a culture that often seeks to avoid the demands of sacrifice;
in a society that advises us to END life rather than suffer its pain;
in an age when we human beings
often think ourselves smarter than God, we need to ask:
“Do we want to know what God thinks?
Does God’s take on how we live our lives make a difference to us?
Do we hunger for as much of the truth as we can discover and know
-- or are we satisfied by our own?”
If we want to think as God does,
if we desire a knowledge beyond our own making,
we can be sure that God’s truth will include a share in the Cross.
Whatever presents itself as truth without personal cost is,
more than likely, a lie.
Even non-believers know the truth of that statement
and certainly we who follow Jesus and the path of his Cross
should not be surprised by the burden of truth
as we wait in hope for the peace promised by fidelity to the truth.
When we gather to pray we come to the table
where we share the supper that saves us,
the sacrament of Christ’s body and blood,
offered first on the altar of the Cross
that in his sacrifice we might know the truth of his love.
May sharing the supper of the Lord make us hungry for his truth.
Posted by Austin Fleming at 12:30 PM