Sat, 2 September 2017
(Jer.20:7-9; Ps.63:2-6,8-9; Rom.12:1-2; Mt.16:21-27)
“Offer your bodies as a living sacrifice,
holy and pleasing to God, your spiritual worship.”
Paul says the same as Jesus when the Lord calls us to “take up [our] cross,” to lose our lives for His sake. And as Paul instructs the Romans: “Do not conform yourselves to this age but be transformed by the renewal of your mind,” so Jesus teaches Peter, and all His apostles and disciples, when He insists he think as God and not as man.
Why? Why is the Lord so harsh with this Rock of the Church (and, as I say, with us all)? The answer is spoken clearly in our reading from Jeremiah. In it the prophet declares in near desperation: “The Word of the Lord has brought me derision and reproach all the day.” He goes so far as to say the Lord has “duped” him, making evident that he had not expected to become “an object of laughter” upon taking on the mantle of prophecy. “Everyone mocks me,” he cries; and yet he “must cry out” still the way of the Lord. Yet he must call the people from their sins and warn them of the “violence and outrage” that is near them. He cannot remain silent, though he would greatly wish to, because the Word of the Lord is “like fire burning in [his] heart, imprisoned in [his] bones,” and he can do nothing but shout it from the rooftops, though it bring him scorn.
And what has this to do with Peter? Peter has just declared that Jesus is the Son of God, the Messiah, and it is his voice above all that will cry out this truth to the ends of the earth; thus he and his fellow apostles must know clearly that to which they are called. As the Lord “must go to Jerusalem and suffer greatly… and be killed,” so must they walk the same path of persecution. This they must see. The contradiction of the cross they must realize, even as they preach it in this hostile world. For to it they must give themselves completely.
How? How can it be that the Christian take up such foolishness in the eyes of the world? How can it be that we die so freely, that we suffer such mockery, such persecution at the hands of sinners? Is it not that our “flesh pines and [our] soul thirsts like the earth, parched, lifeless, and without water” for the living God? And is it not because we know that “as with the riches of a banquet shall [our] soul be satisfied”? The key is in this gospel quote: “The Son of Man will come with His angels in His Father’s glory.” The key is believing on the third day He was raised. If we have this faith it becomes easy to deny the pleasures of the flesh, for even in this we find the eternal life of the Spirit. Because our “soul clings fast” to God and to the hope that is only in Him, we are able to cling fast to His cross and so “discern what is the will of God, what is good and pleasing and perfect.” And so we die with Him to live.
Written, read & chanted, and produced by James Kurt.
Music: "Weightless Crucifixion" from The Whole Whale, eighth album of Songs for Children of Light, by James Kurt.
O LORD, help us always to take the lowest place,
that you might call us up to you.
YHWH, you give a home to the forsaken and call us to do the same; as you have provided for our needy souls – though we deserved it not – so you call us to care for others, or we shall not find our place with you.
We are truly lowly, dear God, for before you, who could stand? How can we hope to sit at the same table as your only Son and partake of the food He provides? Yet to His side He calls us; to be lowly as He is our great gift. His grace we shall know, and in abundance, if with Him we lay down our lives for those in need.
Then we shall come to your holy mountain, to the heavenly Jerusalem with all your angels and saints. Washed in the blood of the Lamb you offer for our sakes, emptied of all the vanity of our race, we shall be exalted and chant your praise, dearest LORD, we who have made ourselves humble and lowly before you, we who have thus found our place at your table with Jesus, and been made perfect by His Cross.