September 03, 2017
Mary sings in her Magnificat: “My Spirit rejoices in God my savior” but her response to the Angel Gabriel: “let it be according to your word” will eventually lead her to the cross and sadness. It is the path of discipleship. (Friday September 15 is the Feast of Our Lady of Sorrows.)
Peter objects to the path Jesus foresees as his destiny in fidelity to the Father. “God forbid that it should happen!” The “Rock” has become a “stumbling stone.” Peter cannot comprehend how the Messiah must suffer and die a horrible death. But the fate of Jesus is also in the cards for Simon. “Whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself, take up his cross and follow me. For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.”
Peter honestly expresses abhorrence to cruelty and suffering. It is a natural tendency in us to avoid suffering and to question God! Jeremiah tells God that he has been duped – by God. The price for becoming a prophet is persecution and rejection. Jeremiah has been set-up for failure. Yet he cannot refrain from speaking in God’s name. “It becomes like fire burning in my heart, imprisoned in my bones.” St. Paul, who suffers greatly as the Apostle to the Gentiles, urges the Church at Rome “by the mercies of God to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice holy and pleasing to God.” Paul cautions his brothers and sisters “not to conform yourselves to this age but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that you may discern what is the will of God.”
How can one/we discern God’s will in the wake of hurricane winds, torrential rains and flooding that sweeps away all that we hold dear? With honestly of Simon Peter and Jeremiah we must protest the suffering and devastation but then pray for the courage, stamina and determination to face the challenge, to restore and rebuild what has been destroyed. We may ask: “Where is God?” We can find God in the solidarity of our humanity and in the response of so many offering help. Remember the promise of Jesus: “I am with you always until the end of time.”
Bishop Malone and U.S. Conference Catholic Bishops are requesting a special collection to aid in the relief effort in the wake of Hurricane Harvey. (There will be more information in the bulletin next weekend.) Although at a distance we remain close to the people of Texas and Louisiana. “Catholic Charities” is directly involved responding to the crisis and providing temporary shelter, food and water. May all those impacted by the storm and flooding hold together, keep faith and not lose hope.
21 Sunday Ordinary
23rd Sunday Ordinary