You duped me, O LORD, and I let myself be duped; you were too strong
for me, and you triumphed.
All the day I am an object of laughter; everyone mocks me.
Whenever I speak, I must cry out,
violence and outrage is my message; the word of the LORD has brought
me derision and reproach all the day.
I say to myself, I will not mention him, I will speak in his name
no more. But then it becomes like fire burning in my heart, imprisoned
in my bones; I grow weary holding it in, I cannot endure it.
I urge you, brothers and sisters, by the mercies of God, to offer
your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God, your spiritual
worship. Do not conform yourselves to this age but be transformed
by the renewal of your mind, that you may discern what is the will of God,
what is good and pleasing and perfect.
Jesus began to show his disciples
that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer greatly from the elders,
the chief priests, and the scribes, and be killed and on the third day
be raised. Then Peter took Jesus aside and began to rebuke him, "God
forbid, Lord! No such thing shall ever happen to you." He turned
and said to Peter, "Get behind me, Satan! You are an obstacle to me.
You are thinking not as God does, but as human beings do."
Then Jesus said to his disciples,
"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
but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. What profit
would there be for one to gain the whole world and forfeit his life?
Or what can one give in exchange for his life? For the Son of Man
will come with his angels in his Father's glory, and then he will repay
all according to his conduct."
longtime national and international activist in the peace movement, Bishop
Gumbleton is a founding member of Pax Christi USA and an outspoken critic
of the sanctions against Iraq.
has appeared on numerous radio and television programs, and has published
numerous articles and reports.
** Scripture texts in this
work are in modified form from the American Standard Version of the Bible
and are available as part of the public domain.
For your convenience, the
Scripture texts, as they appear in the Lectionary for Mass for Use in the
Dioceses of the United States, second typical edition, Copyright ©
1998, 1997, 1970 Confraternity of Christian Doctrine, Washington, D.C.,
may be found at the website of the United States Conference of Catholic
|In order to reflect
on today’s readings, we have to remind ourselves of last Sunday’s gospel.
I think that most of us felt blessed last Sunday. We were reminded from
the gospel lesson of how Jesus spoke about Peter as the rock and even gave
him the name ‘rock.’ We learned that the earliest interpretation of this
passage was that the rock really was the faith of Peter; the recognition
that Peter had that Jesus was not only the messiah, one like us in every
way as a human, but even more than this, he was the son of the living god.
It was this revelation, which Jesus said that Peter had received, whereby
he knew Jesus not just as a friend and brother but also as the son of God.
That was the faith of Peter and the knowledge that Peter came to have.
And it was on this that the church, the community of disciples of Jesus,
is to be built.
And what made us so blessed
was to realize that that same faith is ours– our own awareness of Jesus
as son of man and son of God. The faith that we share with one another
is what builds the church. This is what builds our community and holds
us together as disciples of Jesus. And truly we are blessed to be those
who know Jesus and to be the rock upon whom the church is built.
And then at the very
end of the lesson last Sunday, Jesus told the disciples something that
probably seemed sort of strange. He said, “But don’t tell anybody
this. Don’t tell anyone who I really am.” It was because he had not
fully revealed to the disciples what it meant to be the messiah, to be
the son of god as part of our human race. And it’s in today’s gospel
that it becomes clear. Jesus tells them, “I have to go up Jerusalem.
I’ll be handed over to my enemies. They’ll mock me, they’ll scourge me,
and they’ll kill me.”
None of us likes to hear
that and certainly Peter did not want to hear that. And that’s why he gets
right out there in front of Jesus and says, “No, don’t go to Jerusalem.
Why be so foolish?” And you know it was a temptation for Jesus. You can
kind of tell this because of what he says to Peter. He tells him, “Satan,
get behind me.” This should remind you of an earlier reading from the gospel
of Matthew where Jesus is taken into the desert and Satan tempts Jesus
with all kinds of things that he could have if only he would turn away
from the course that God had laid out for him. To be the suffering servant,
to reject violence, reject wealth, prestige, power. To be the suffering
servant, the one revealed in the book of the prophet Isaiah -- Here is
my servant, my chosen one in whom I am well pleased. He does not
cry out aloud in the streets. He does not break the bruised reed,
nor crush the wavering flame. Yet my servant brings true justice and fullness
of life to all the people. But that servant must do it in that extraordinary,
almost unbelievable way and not cry out aloud in the streets. Not call
people to arms. That’s what that means. To be a nurturing, compassionate,
and loving servant, healing the bruised reed and bringing to fullness of
life the wavering flame.
So Jesus had a call and
it meant he had to empty himself and let himself be tortured and be put
to death. So that by his love even those that put him to death could
be transformed. He could show us the way to bring true justice to the nations,
to bring true peace, to make a world where the reign of god breaks forth
and where all our brothers and sisters, sons and daughters of the same
God and live in peace and harmony and love together.
Peter was telling Jesus,
“Don’t do it your way. That’s a foolish way.” And Jesus says, “Satan, get
out of here.” And then he goes on to tell all of the other disciples and
you and me too: If you want to be my disciple, you must deny your
very self, take up your cross and follow me. The only way our world will
be transformed and become the reign of God will be by following the way
And that’s what St. Paul
is getting at in the second lesson, today. It’s a very powerful passage
if we take the time to reflect upon it. Paul is saying, “Do not be conformed
to this age and to the culture and the world around us. But be transformed
by the revolution of your mind.” Turn all of our natural impulses upside
down and inside out. Where we think we have to use power and violence,
use love. You think you have to have wealth in order to be happy. No, blessed
are the poor. Turn all of our thinking around. Have your mind be transformed
and not conformed to the world around us. Not conformed to the messages
around us everyday.
There are a couple of
examples that are very current in our minds where the thinking of the people
around us, the world in which we live, is clearly very contrary to the
thinking and the way of Jesus. And we have to ask ourselves, “Which
thinking are we inclined to accept and to follow?”
One of the examples I’m
thinking of is this call from our government leaders to go to war again
-- to invade the nation of Iraq and to bring about the death of thousands
and thousands of people in order to establish dominance in that part of
the world. That is so contrary to the way of Jesus that you would think
all the Christian churches would rise up and say: No, we can’t do that.
We have to find a different way.
I heard Secretary Rumsfeld
say this week about President Hussein -- and this is such a blatant example
of how different it is from the way of Jesus -- “We’re not going to let
him stop our plans through a diplomatic offensive.” In other words, if
President Hussein wanted to sit down and talk and negotiate -- what
Rumsfeld calls a diplomatic offensive -- we’re not going to let him stop
our plans. We want to go to war. And we will, unless enough rise
up and say no. Don’t conform our minds and our thinking to the ways of
the world around us and the 70-80 percent of the people in this country
who say yes to that war.
If we really want to
follow Jesus, don’t we have to have a different way of thinking? We need
to have our minds transformed, a revolution of our hearts.
The other example that
I think of -- it has to do with our government again and the leaders of
our country -- is the meeting going on in Johannesburg, South Africa. There’s
a meeting of all the nations of the world. Over 100 leaders of countries
are there, but one very notable absence is the leader of the United States.
And there are thousands of people over there protesting, because of what
this meeting is about. It’s about trying to find a way to bring development,
to lift people out of poverty – the four-fifths of the world’s people who
are poor, and many of them desperately or even absolutely poor. To help
them to lift themselves out of poverty and yet sustain our environment.
Don’t destroy our world. It’s not a very easy thing to do. It won’t
be easy to do this.
If all of the nations
developed as we have developed, it would be the end of our world. We couldn’t
sustain what would be almost ten billion people in a rather short time,
if everybody consumed as we’re consuming -- unless, we make some dramatic
changes. And people over there are protesting because those who are
meeting and making the decisions are not really listening to the poor.
My guess is that if Jesus were here right now, he would be among the protestors.
He would be in solidarity with the poor who are pleading for life for themselves
and for their children who die in such terrible numbers.
And our president can’t
even take the time to go to be part of the discussion and perhaps bring
some influence in a way that would bring about sustainable development
for all the peoples of the earth.
Most people don’t even
know the kinds of decisions that are being made there and need to be made
there. So we’re not raising our voices. Yet Jesus would be raising
his voice for the poor. Don’t you think? I do. He always went out among
the poor. They were the ones closest to him and he identified with them.
It’s so easy for us to
conform our thinking to the way of the world around us and to ignore this
and pay no attention. Don’t demand the kinds of changes that would bring
true justice to all the peoples of the world.
If we’re convinced, as
I hope many of us would be, that we really must undergo a revolution in
our thinking and really must try to follow a different way to justice and
peace in the world, if we really do act against the common thinking that’s
around us, you know what might happen? It might be what Jeremiah says happened
to him, “I am a laughing stock, a laughing stock from morning to night.
They all make fun of me. Yahweh’s word has brought me insult and derision
all day long.” People don’t want to hear the message of God, the
message of Jesus. And if we try to proclaim it and live it, that’s
what might happen. But if we let that word of God enter deeply into us,
just as Jeremiah did, even though he said, “Look, I don’t want to say this
word of God anymore,” it became a fire inside of him and he couldn’t stop
proclaiming God’s message. That’s what I hope will happen to us and that
we will let this word of God proclaimed in our midst today enter deeply
into our hearts, into our spirits, and become like a fire that will change
us and help us transform our world into the reign of God.
In the name of the Father and
of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.