Sunday, 31 August 2008

My Thoughts on Today's Bible Readings

Why did Peter rebuke Jesus in today's gospel? IMHO this is how people dealt with loved ones who talked of early deaths. To talk of death is in some cultures akin to inviting death, and death is something to be shunned. But our human ways are not God's ways. Preventing the deaths of loved ones is a very human way, but sometimes God's way include letting loved ones die. It is the difficulty of this truth that has led many to be angry with and reject God. It is as if God is less important than their loved ones. But God wants us to set our minds on His interests, not ours.

Today's reading from Jeremiah talks about persecution- a social and emotional persecution so intense that it causes one to want to leave God. Many of us suffer similar persecutions in our lives as Christians. It's easy to feel righteous when we are persecuted in this way by non-believers, to say, "This is my vocation; this is what the Lord wants of me." But what if the persecution comes from fellow Christians? What if the actions of fellow Christian ministry leaders and helpers leave us feeling numb, rejected and lonely? And I' m not talking about fake Christians here, but good Christians who serve the Church regularly and well. Is such a 'persecution' from God or because one is not a good Christian? However let's take heart in the reading from Jeremiah. Jeremiah wanted to stop serving the Lord, but His message became like a fire locked up inside Jeremiah. Thus Jeremiah had to continue on serving the Lord. Thus it is with us. If the Lord wants us to serve nothing can stand in His way, no matter how numb, rejected and lonely we feel. And who knows, as we continue to serve we may end up feeling less of these feelings and become happier.

Memorial of Saint Aidan of Lindisfarne

St Aidan of Lindisfarne (the Apostle of Northumbria) is one of the saints celebrated today by Catholics everywhere. Here is something on this saint taken from Wikipedia:

- an Irishman - possibly born in Connacht
- a monk at the monastery on the Island of Iona in Scotland- sent as missionary to the kingdom of Northumbria
- founder and first bishop of the monastery on the island of Lindisfarne (close to the royal fortress of Bamburgh) in England
- by patiently talking to the people on their own level Aidan and his monks slowly restored Christianity to the Northumbrian communities.
- also took in English boys to train at the monastery in order to ensure that the area's future religious leadership would be English
- died on August 31 651 in the 17th year of his episcopate - died leaning against the buttress of a church on a royal estate near Bamburgh

Today's Bible Reading (31 Aug, Sun - 22nd Week)

Jeremiah 20: 7-9
Lord, you coerced me into being a prophet,
and I allowed you to do it.
You overcame my resistance and prevailed over me.
Now I have become a constant laughingstock.
Everyone ridicules me.
For whenever I prophesy, I must cry out,
“Violence and destruction are coming!”
This message from the Lord has made me
an object of continual insults and derision.
Sometimes I think, “I will make no mention of his message.
I will not speak as his messenger any more.”
But then his message becomes like a fire
locked up inside of me, burning in my heart and soul.
I grow weary of trying to hold it in;
I cannot contain it.

Romans 12: 1-2
Therefore I exhort you, brothers and sisters, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a sacrifice – alive, holy, and pleasing to God – which is your reasonable service. Do not be conformed to this present world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may test and approve what is the will of God – what is good and well-pleasing and perfect.

Matthew 16: 21-27
From that time on Jesus began to show his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things at the hands of the elders, chief priests, and experts in the law, and be killed, and on the third day be raised. So Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him: “God forbid, Lord! This must not happen to you!” But he turned and said to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me, because you are not setting your mind on God’s interests, but on man’s.” Then Jesus said to his disciples, “If anyone wants to become my follower, he must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. For what does it benefit a person if he gains the whole world but forfeits his life? Or what can a person give in exchange for his life? For the Son of Man will come with his angels in the glory of his Father, and then he will reward each person according to what he has done.”