August 31, 2014 - 22nd Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year A
There’s a price to pay for standing up and speaking out. It takes courage to speak up when we see wrongdoing.
Like the teenage boy who stands up for the classmate whom everyone is bullying and name calling even when he knows the crowd will say it’s because he must like him or something like that.
Like the parents who stand up to their daughter’s abusive spouse knowing that the intervention will end the marriage, as well it should.
Like the priest who stands up to the bishops of the church calling them to greater charity of spirit knowing full well there will be a price to pay.
Like the whistle blower who stands up to unethical business practices in the workplace knowing there will be a pink slip coming as a result.
Our natural tendency is to go with the flow, to accept the ways of the world. We do this so that we will be accepted and liked.
The readings this weekend remind us that the ways of God are not our ways. God’s ways are not the ways of the world.
Saint Paul says, “Do not conform yourself to this age. Be transformed by the will of God."
But so many of us just remain silent. Why? Because we know that anyone who questions the status quo runs the risk of being treated harshly by those who benefit from things being just the way they are.
Look at Jeremiah. Lord you have enticed me and I was enticed. I allowed myself to be enticed. You have overpowered me. You have prevailed.
Jeremiah describes the fire that burns in his heart, caged in his bones. And despite himself, he must declare his love.
Jeremiah had to submit to the Lord.
Look at Peter. Peter wanted to tell Jesus how it was going to go, “God forbid, Lord.” But Peter had to submit to the Lord.
It is not the way of the world that matters. It is the way chosen for us by God that matters. And this way, God’s way, can be difficult. We say to ourselves, we will not mention him. We will not speak of his ways.
And God continues to entice us. God will not relent until we accept the invitation to follow.
Following Jesus means acting entirely contrary to the conventional wisdom of the world. Following Jesus means self-giving.
To follow Jesus, we must be like Jeremiah and Peter. We must deny ourselves. We must lose ourselves. We must give ourselves over to God who is greater, who overpowers us, who entices us.
We have to let go of our selfish pride and our own wants and desires to take up the cross of service, the cross of self-denial.
The cross that Jesus calls us to carry is a cross of dying to self in order to do the will of the one who is greater. Only in this way can we rise to new life.
In the readings today, both Jesus and Jeremiah are called by God to challenge the establishment. Might we be called to do the same?
If we stand against the church, the government, an institution, a multinational corporation, a bully, a demon we know there will be consequences.
But sometimes we are called to speak up, to speak out, to stand up for something – this is the cross!
The cross we are called to take up and follow.