Jer. 20: 7-9, Romans 12: 1-2, Matthew 16: 21-27
Today in the Gospel, Jesus begins to talk about his journey to Jerusalem. This is an important topic for all of us. The journey for Jesus is to his passion and death.
There is a threefold prediction of the passion in Matthew, today and in chapter 17 and 20. Jesus wants to keep us attentive to the journey. This, of course, changes history and brings us into faith in Christ and into a unique spiritual journey to our own Jerusalem. The New Jerusalem for us, is to be Church, that union with Christ and ultimately to our eternal home.
This, of course, means our death and resurrection, our dying to self and our Transformation into Christ. We know the call – take up your cross and follow me. Losing your life to find it.
Jesus summarizes what’s at stake – it is distorted human self-centeredness that puts personal safety and well-being before all else and therefore loses the meaning and purpose of identity and community in Christ.
So, then we hear St. Paul who invites us to the renewal of our mind, which brings us to offer our bodies as a living sacrifice, that’s the transformation that is a whole new approach to life. Paul really names the issue for today ¬– do not conform yourselves to this age. What a timeless word Paul gives us.
Today every value of our Christian life is being questioned. St. Paul does know human nature. How we cling to ourselves, we just hold on and won’t let go. I think we all know the struggle of losing your life. Jesus is the perfect example of what we are called to as authentic Christians.
Each phase of our life, presents its own particular moment. Because each phase of our life we go through, has its own calling. What we were called to at 20 is different than 50 or 65 or 85. The spiritual steps change as we grow in wisdom and understanding of our journey to our Jerusalem.
So, my friends, what is God asking of you now, what is the surrender required for faithfulness to Christ this time in your life. The question now is how do I lose my life – moving into that complete transformation into divinity, into holiness that began when I recognized I belong to Christ and was invited into his life. Like Jeremiah, what is this burning in our heart, in our bones?
What is this life with Christ? A renewed thinking, feeling, of living like Christ at every turn, that’s the goal of the Christian life, Jesus tell us that over and over. Do we grasp it? My sense is that we are reminded fairly frequently of this if you are on a faith journey. It happens little by little, but the time comes because of our commitment to the process, to gospel life that we have more and more insight into what God is calling us into – this step by step of retooling of our whole life. St. Paul tells us in Acts 17: 28 – It is in you that I live and move and have my being. What’s burning in our hearts is the challenge it gives us. Finding that oneness with Christ.
That’s it, the real stuff of the spiritual journey, rooted in the truth of Christ – rooted in the truth of God – that we come from God and go back to God. But today’s world has clouded this truth. There’s no real clear understanding of who we are, and what we are about, for many today. All across the spectrum. We, as a society, have lost the focus of Truth. It seems truth now is whatever you want it to be.
We must be grounded in Truth, the truth of God as the focus of life. This truth shapes our truth. All focused-on Christ. This requires finally coming to surrender to the truth of Christ and living it out.
In the Gospel story Jesus is uncompromising and rejects Peter’s unrelenting. He says, get behind me Satan, you are thinking not as God does but as human being do. Jesus is explaining himself and his deliberate choice to pursue the journey to Jerusalem because of his utter trust in the Father. Jesus so willingly lives out of the truth of his trust in the Father.
Jesus makes clear in his message to us that God’s will not only desires our entire life but also has given us Jesus to help us find the ultimate meaning and way to this transformation.
The blessing is God keeps calling us to the truth of Christ and his way back to God.