Today we place ourselves in the shoes of those called by God to do the hardest things. To follow Christ, to be prophetic is not easy and we often get it wrong. Sometimes we complain and struggle like Jeremiah (20:7-9), or we try to avoid the hardest parts of our calling like Peter encouraged Jesus to do in Matthew 16:21-27. Paul asks us to to transform ourselves and be transformed in order to live the Gospel. (Romans 12:1-2) It is not easy to follow a hard calling. It is not easy to be prophetic. It is not easy to follow the Gospel. Its okay to complain and to err in our understandings like Jeremiah and Peter as long as we know deeply that we are called and God’s word burns within us so it must be spoken. I am a Jeremiah. I complain that serving the poorest is hard, but I want to do it and I know I must do it- to be who I am to enact my very essence. . That is why Jesus says “take up your cross”-meaning take up the thing you must do no matter how hard it is. Can we use this Sunday to look at our lives and to take up those very hard parts of living the Gospel that are difficult for us. Jesus moved forward and beyond death, and we too live as we follow him in this.
Rev. Bev’s Homily
After Officer Frank Serpico exposed police corruption in New York.
he was set up by fellow officers and shot.
When asked why he had stepped forward, Serpico replied,
“Well, I don’t know. I guess
I would have to say it would be because…
if I didn’t, who would I be when I listened to a piece of music?”
Karen Gay Silkwood, working at a nuclear manufacturing company,
called them to task over faulty nuclear fuel rods,
falsified reports, and employee safety risks.
She had assembled documentation for her claims
and decided to go public with the evidence.
She left to meet a reporter, taking the documentation with her;
she was found dead
from a car crash of suspicious but undetermined cause,
and the documentation was never found.
Fr. Roy Bourgeois.
He stood up for women’s ordination
and was ejected from Maryknoll and the priesthood
when he refused to back down.
And more whose names are not household words:
Sister Sally Butler, Sister Maureen Paul Turlish;
Fr. Ronald Lemmert, Fr. John Bambrick,
Msgr. Kenneth E. Lasch, Robert Hoatson,
Fr. James Connell; Fr. Thomas P. Doyle;
Bishop Tom Gumbleton.
They have exposed cases of sexual abuse and cover-up.
Doing what’s right and just.
It risks everything.
Dietrich Bonhoeffer called it “the cost of discipleship.”
There’s no option; they cannot not do it.
So for us.
We’re not likely to be killed for doing what’s right,
but we will undoubtedly suffer.
Being a Christian is not easy.
Following Jesus means keeping the two greatest commandments—
love God and love our neighbor.
It means being a prophet.
’s scriptures tell us
that it has always been an all-consuming task
to be faithful to God.
For Jeremiah of Anathoth;
for Jesus of Nazareth;
for Paul of Tarsus;
and for us:
living as children of God takes all we have.
Yet we are called to be prophets.
There are two classic definitions of a prophet.
Fr. Bruce Vawter defines a prophet as
the conscience of the people.
Hans Walter Wolff defnes prophets as
the people in the community
who tell us the future implications
of our present actions.
Prophets are whistleblowers.
Prophets are reformers.
There’s a price for that, and sometimes it’s high.
Peter wants Jesus to avoid the consequences of his stand
for reform, for justice, for good.
He wants to follow Jesus,
but he doesn’t want to have to risk anything for it.
Jesus says no; the New American Bible translation reads:
“Those who wish to come after me must deny themselves,
take up their cross, and follow me.”
Scholars point out that taking up one’s cross
would have meant nothing to anyone
before Jesus historically took up his own cross.
By the time Matthew writes the story,
the cross metaphor has meaning
because he can look back on Jesus’ crucifixion and death.
When Jesus speaks of discipleship before he died,
he is telling his followers to be completely open
to whatever God wanted them to do,
to make God present and working in their lives
the center of their existence.
He was echoing Jeremiah’s demand
that people cut through their religious entanglements
and return to Yahweh.
Jesus is not asking us
to patiently endure some dramatic moment of suffering.
He is calling us to an ongoing, generous,
open, and honest relationship with God,
a daily quest to discover what is right and do it.
That search involves a real death to self, and real sacrifice.
It means looking with open eyes at what’s in front of us.
It means taking stock
of what we’re doing with this precious gift of life and talent.
It means doing what we can do
to make God’s love alive in the world.
For grandparents, it means putting aside their retirement leisure
and making a home for a troubled grandchild
while Mom and Dad work out their marital conflicts.
For teachers, it means taking an average of $936 a year
out of their personal pocketbooks
to buy school supplies and educational materials
for their classes.
For a retiree, it means hobbling into Claver House to every week
to wash dishes for three hours
instead of sitting comfortably at home
reading the paper and drinking coffee.
It means sending ten bucks to Catholic Relief Services
to help the victims of the typhoon, or the flood,
or the hurricane, or the earthquake.
It means listening to our grouchy neighbor.
It means working to save future generations
from the impending disasters of climate change.
It means going about doing good.
If we don’t do it, who would we be?