REFLECTION ON THE 22ND SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME
DATE: 31ST AUGUST, 2008.
THEME: OVERCOME THE DICTATES OF THE FLESH
Today, Mother Church invites us to reflect on the challenges that await those who offer themselves as living sacrifices to God. It is not astonishing at all to realize that the Prophet Jeremiah at a point in his ministry felt reluctant to offer himself as a living sacrifice to God’s will. This is because like Jeremiah, we all experience this same reluctance to accept the cross. Sometimes we find ourselves saying “Lord why did you create me to come into this world and suffer like this? Lord take my life for l am tired of this life and for some when they think that God is not taking their lives, they do it themselves. But what consolation it is to know that Christ experienced the same reluctance of the flesh and had to struggle to overcome it. In the garden of Gethsemane, he came face to face with the reluctance of the flesh and he prayed “… Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me, yet not my will but yours be done…” (Luke 22:42). Jeremiah like Jesus recognized the power of God at work in him even in his challenges. Jeremiah says that “… You have overpowered me: you were the stronger.” Indeed, God is more nearer to us than we think whenever we are in difficulties and this we must acknowledge.
Jesus invites us with this admonition “If anyone wants to be a follower of mine, let him renounce himself and take up his cross and follow me.” The invitation is to follow Jesus and not to take the lead. That is why Jesus will tell Peter in the Gospel “Get behind me, Satan!” Let us allow Jesus to take his rightful place in the everyday circumstances of our lives. Let us allow God to be God and us human to be human and not take His place in our lives. For the moment we do that we are conforming to the standard of this world; a world in which the human being has become the centre of attraction instead of God. The type of humanistic society we are living in today poses lots of threats to our faith. Let us therefore beware and always allow Jesus to take the lead in our lives. When Christ becomes the centre of your life then you can present real worship, which is the offering of every moment and every action to God. Do not try to match your life to all the fashions of this world; do not be like a chameleon which takes its color from its surroundings but be transformed by the renewal of your minds so that you may discern what is the will of God- what is good and acceptable and perfect( Romans 12: 2).
POINTS TO NOTE
Consider Peter whom Jesus considered as Rock a few seconds ago being addressed as Satan. Peter is indeed conforming to the pattern of this world because he thought like any other servant will think namely, dying for his master. The difference is that it is the master who rather dies for his servants.
· The paradox of our lives as Christians is that it is when we lose our lives that we find it. For some of us, our inability to offer ourselves is due to the kind of life we have led in the past and we have allowed it to dictate our pace even though we are converted. Jesus says carry it and follow me. Is it your marriage, children, work, your sins? Why spend all your energies lamenting instead of going to Jesus in prayer. What a needless pain we bear when we fail to bring our burdens to Jesus.
The world stands for material things opposed to God in the following ways:
· Remember the mercy of God and offer yourselves to him.
· No one can take them with him at the end; he can only take himself; and if he degraded himself in order to gain them, his regrets will be bitter. Jesus is not interested in what you are bringing to, your successes, your accomplishment but your availability.
· They cannot help a man in the shattering days of his life. Material things will not mend a broken heart or cheer a lonely soul.
· If by any chance a man gained his material possessions in a way that is dishonorable, there will come a day when his conscience will speak.
Conforming ourselves to the pattern of this world means that the world will dictate our pace: greed, impatience, mediocrity, short cut to problems, and unforgiveness.