Homily for August 31

Homily for the 22nd Sunday in Ordinary Time
(Scriptures for today's Mass)

Audio for homily

“You duped me, Lord, and I let myself be duped!”
So says Jeremiah to the Lord…

DUPE is quite a word:  it means to deceive, trick, hoodwink, swindle,
defraud, cheat, delude, double-cross, mislead or fool someone.

Ugly, nasty business – all of it.

So, was this Jeremiah’s fate?  Did the Lord DUPE him?
There’s certainly no doubt that Jeremiah felt duped:
he felt the Lord had used him and then abandoned him
to the mocking reproach and derision of those around him.

But, would the Lord deceive or double-cross anyone
let alone someone who’d been faithful in doing what the Lord asked?
No.  The Lord is not a con artist.
There is no duplicity in the Lord.  There is only truth.

But the truth is, we never know the whole of the Lord’s truth
-- certainly not all at once.
We know the truth partially, as we live it and discern it.
And, as it unfolds, the truth will often discomfort us.

Haven’t all of us, at one time or another, felt that we’ve been duped?
And of course, sometimes, we have been duped!
There are people in our lives who have deliberately misled us,
deceived us and defrauded us.

Ugly, nasty business – all of it.

But there are also times when we’ve felt duped,
especially in relationships with others:
times when the unfolding truth of our experience
has brought us to situations we never expected to face
and to places we never expected to visit.

It’s especially when the truth lands us in unanticipated circumstances,
in unforeseen difficulty,
it’s then when we’re most likely to feel duped -
cheated of what we imagined to be rightfully ours.

• This happens in our relationships in our families
when our parents or our spouse or our siblings or our children
hurt or disappoint us, when they don’t come through for us -
as they had promised, as we had expected,
as we had hoped -- as we had prayed for.

• And this happens in the church when what we took for granted     
is shown to be tragically lacking, unjust or dishonest
as the church’s humanity unfolds before us in all its brokenness. 

• And, as it happened with Jeremiah so it often happens with us:
the slowly unfolding experience of our lives
reveals more and more of what the Lord’s truth asks of us
and where it’s leading us – ready or not.

Like Jeremiah we have our own ideas about how life should unfold,
particularly if we’re in a relationship with God.
We are sometimes surprised that even in our faithfulness,
things don’t unfold, things don’t go just as we had expected,
just as we had hoped – just as we had prayed for.

And that brings us to the heart of the matter:
to Jeremiah’s heart, to the Lord’s heart and to our hearts.

This passage from Jeremiah 
is less about his disappointment in the Lord,
and much more about the revival of God’s love  in his life 
--  in spite of how things turned out.

Remember Jeremiah’s words: My fidelity to the Lord
 “has brought me derision and reproach all the day.
I say to myself,
 ‘I will not mention him, I will speak in his name no more!’
But then it becomes like fire burning in my heart,
imprisoned in my bones;
I grow weary holding it in, I cannot endure it.”

Jeremiah, though feeling duped by the Lord,
knows the fire of God’s love still burning within him.
And he surrenders to that love and the Lord.

And don’t we do the same?

• Do we not continue to love even those who have failed or hurt us,
even those we feel have duped us?

• Are we not even now worshipping in the faith of a church
whose humanity and frailty have angered and disappointed us,
sometimes leaving us feeling duped?

• And how many times in the course of our lives have we come to see,
when feeling duped:
that God’s way is not always my way;
God’s plan, not always my plan;
that God’s wisdom is always greater than my own;
and God’s truth is always unfolding in my life
-- in ways I cant yet imagine or anticipate?

In the gospel here, Peter tries to shield the Lord,
from the uncomfortable truth unfolding in Jesus' life:
Jesus is going to suffer and he’s going to die.
When Peter tries to deny this truth, Jesus rebukes him
and he points to the utter, stark truth of the Cross.

On the night before he died on that Cross, Jesus prayed in the garden,
“Father – let his cup of suffering pass me by,
but your will, your truth, not mine, be done.”

And hanging on the Cross, just before he breathed his last,
Jesus cried out, 
“Why have you abandoned me?”
(You duped me, O God, and I let myself be duped.)

But the Father had not duped the Son, had not abandoned Jesus.
The unfolding truth of God’s love would be revealed     
in Jesus rising from the dead.

Every time we make a friend, every time we fall in love,
every we time we fail
and every time we turn to God in faith and prayer,
we open ourselves to an unfolding truth,
the whole of which is yet unknown to us: 
it is yet to be revealed.

Every time we render ourselves vulnerable 
to the love of God and others,
the unfolding truth of our experience
will bring us to situations we didn’t expect to face
and to places we never expected to visit.

But we will never be duped by the Lord.
In the Lord there is mystery, but never duplicity.
In the Lord there is wisdom, but no chicanery.
In the Lord there is the fullness of truth which unfolds
and is revealed to each of us not all at once, by only day by day.

And in the truth of our lives 
is the mystery and the wisdom of the Cross,
in whose shadow we pray this morning.

In the Bread and Cup of the Eucharist
may the Lord come into our hearts as he did into Jeremiah’s.
May we be warmed by the fire of his love within us
and, with Jeremiah, surrender, once more,
to the Lord who is the truth of our lives.

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