Jesus gave his all – will you?
The prophet Jeremiah has a hard time dealing with the circumstances God has placed him in: You duped me, Lord, he says. Too caught up in his own sorrow and physical pain at having been rejected by his own people, Jeremiah is conflicted, vacillating between total commitment and a wall of objections. But the spiritual struggle wins out over the physical one, and Jeremiah ultimately accepts to continue to proclaim God’s word because it is like fire burning in his heart – a passion for the mission God has given him, ensuring the commitment he needs. Psalm 63 encapsulates this passion: for you my flesh pines and my soul thirsts, the psalmist says. Jeremiah knows that God is his help; he will be upheld by the right hand of the Lord.
In Matthew’s Gospel, Peter is likewise conflicted. Having just proclaimed Jesus the Son of the living God, he now refuses to accept the vision of suffering Jesus places before him: God forbid, Lord! No such thing shall ever happen to you. Peter doesn’t want Jesus to suffer, and he’s probably not too keen on embracing his own cross, as Jesus asks all of the disciples to do. Peter is unwilling to surrender control, to surrender all to Christ’s love for him; it will take time before he fully grasps the kind of commitment Jesus is requiring of him, and the cross and mission that are his.
Modeling his own life after that of Jesus, Paul will likewise urge the Romans to similar commitment: offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, he says. Embrace the cross, invest yourselves entirely in your identity as Christians, and remain faithful to God in spite of persecution. A renewal of mind is necessary, he tells them; the Romans can’t be successful in their faith if they dedicate themselves only partially to the cross of Christ. Like Jeremiah, like Peter, like the Romans, we too are called to total commitment to God’s will, called to give all we have as we take up that cross and follow Jesus. Are we ready?
This post is based on Fr. Pat’s Scripture class.
Image source: Wordle