Saturday, September 2, 2017

Gospel text for Sunday 3 September 2017

Matthew 16:21-28       Jesus began to show his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and undergo great suffering at the hands of the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised. And Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him, saying, “God forbid it, Lord! This must never happen to you.” But he turned and said to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; for you are setting your mind not on divine things but on human things.”

Then Jesus told his disciples, “If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake will find it. For what will it profit them if they gain the whole world but forfeit their life? Or what will they give in return for their life?

“For the Son of Man is to come with his angels in the glory of his Father, and then he will repay everyone for what has been done. Truly I tell you, there are some standing here who will not taste death before they see the Son of Man coming in his kingdom.”

Reflection        “God forbid it… this must never happen!” No one wants suffering. Not Peter. Not me, not you, not the countless people devastated by the ravages of Hurricane Harvey. Like Peter, we want God to forbid suffering. That would be so much easier than having to live in imitation of Jesus, so much easier than setting our personal comforts aside and caring for all those suffering people. “Jesus, do you not understand, when all hell breaks loose it could cost us our lives?”

Can you hear Jesus’ response? “Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; for you are setting your mind not on divine things but on human things.” Ouch. I want to crawl under a rock. My petty concerns, anxiety about my security, safety, esteem, power and control, my withholding love and care and generosity are stumbling blocks to God’s compassionate presence being revealed in the world.

Yes, I better get behind Jesus but I want to cling to my way of life, to my thoughts, my beliefs, my comforts, my church, my money, my way. Then Jesus asks, “For what will it profit (you) if (you) gain the whole world but forfeit (your) life?” What life is Jesus talking about?

I believe Jesus is talking about our “with God life.” Jesus finds his life in and of and with God. He does not cling to things of this world demanding that they never change. He is willing to challenge the status quo; to let old ideas, thought forms, beliefs and conventional strategies for security, safety, esteem, power and control die even though it costs him dearly. This is what he means by being willing to lose our life to follow him. We must be willing to lose our lives as we have known them in order to live our “with God” life.

Tens of thousands of people are suffering In the wake of Hurricane Harvey. Calling out to God on their behalf is simply not enough, in fact, Jesus would call this being stumbling blocks. When all hell breaks loose it is up to us to live in imitation of Jesus, setting our minds on divine things, caring for all the suffering people without withholding, without judgment. 

Here are three ways you may help the animals and the people suffering from the ravages of Hurricane Harvey. 

Animals to help the Rejoice Horse Ranch in Texas rescue and care for pets and livestock that are literally pouring onto their ranch.

People to help the Episcopal Relief and Development Fund provide assistance to people recovering from the impact of Hurricane Harvey.

Ready to Serve If you want to volunteer as part of the long term recovery from Hurricane Harvey you can register at this website.

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