Scripture: Lectionary # 125: Jeremiah 20:7-9. Psalm 63:2.3-4.5-6.8-9.
romans 12:1-2. Matthew 16:21-27
If we want to pray the Gospel of Matthew, the Lord’s Prayer captures its
message best in the prayer Jesus gave us. We often can make sense of a
given passage by praying the Our Father and then rereading the passage to
see which of the seven intercessions of that prayer seem to fit. Today’s
Gospel is about doing the will of God, hence, the phrase “Thy will be done”
is helpful in our meditation on the Gospel passage read in the liturgy for
Conforming ourselves to Christ Jesus means doing the will of the Father and
this means the way of the Cross is essential to our transformation into
Jesus Christ. Without the Cross there is no true discipleship; without the
Cross there is no salvation for those who believe in Jesus, the Son of God.
It is by the Cross that we are made into disciples of Jesus who are one
with him in doing the will of the Father. Salvation and Resurrection are
the immediate fruit of the Cross of Jesus.
We are able to meditate on the readings in the light of this call to the
cost of discipleship. In the first reading we hear the prophetic and
anguished voice of Jeremiah who among the prophets is a prefigure of Jesus’
as the Suffering Anointed One of God. The prayer of Jeremiah is an outcry
against God who has duped him, that is, seduced him into this horrible way
of suffering among his own people. They will attempt to silence him but
his belly is on fire with the word of God even though it is a pronouncement
about the sins of his own nation and people. Symbolically we can see the
image of the Cross when Jeremiah is put into the stocks under the yoke used
for constraining animals. Dag Hammarskjold’s simple prayer is similar to
Jeremiah’s: “For all that has been,’thanks’, to all that will be ‘Yes.’
Peter puts obstacles to the pronouncement of Jesus by refusing to accept
what Jesus tells him and the apostles about his immediate future–the
sufferings and death he will undergo at the hands of the Romans. He will be
a suffering servant and messiah not a royal one as Peter wishes him to be.
The social and religious order of the world of Peter is being turned over
topsy-turvy. Jesus rebukes him strongly calling Peter an Adversary like
the one who tortured Job but even worse. He does not understand the prayer
“Thy will be done!”
Our passage is powerful and contains the central message of the Gospel. Fr.
Faley, T.O.R. succinctly comments on it: “The sayings on discipleship
(vv24-28) are well suited to the Matthean context. Cross-bearing and
self-denial are integral to any true following of Jesus.It need not be
sought out; it flows from the Christian life itself. Cross-bearing derives
its raison d’etre from the following of Jesus.” (Footprints on the
Mountain, page 569).
Our short reading from Paul to the Romans is about sacrifice and fits the
theme of the Gospel. Paul challenges us to be conformed to Christ, that
is, to be transformed into Jesus by our spiritual sacrifice of who we are
in the sight of God and accepting that with all of its pain and suffering
and even death. “Offer your bodies as a living sacrifice holy and
acceptable to God, your spiritual worship.”
Jesus, Jeremiah, and Paul show us how to pray and live out “Thy Will Be
Done.” Saying yes as they did and as Mary did at the Annunciation we enter
into transforming our lives into that of Jesus. Paul says this in a
“I swear by God’s truth, there is no Yes and No about what we say to you.
The Son of God, the Christ Jesus, that we proclaimed among you–I mean
Silvanus and Timothy and I–was never Yes and No about what we say to you:
with Him it was always Yes and however many promises God made, the Yes to
them all is in Him. That it why it is ‘through Him’ that we answer Amen to
the praise of God.” (II Corinthians 2:18-20). Yes, Lord, Thy will be done!