22nd Sunday Year A



Greatest Desire Homily (2017)

Living Sacrifice Homily (2017)


1st Reading: Jeremiah 20:7-9

“O Lord, you have enticed me, and I was enticed; you have overpowered me, and you have prevailed” 

Once again, we hear Jeremiah complaining to God.

After resisting the call to be a prophet in his youth, Jeremiah finally consented. God gave him a terribly hard message to give his people – to warn Israel that they should surrender to Babylon rather than fight. Not one bit of this message would appeal to anyone. 100% negative. 

Jeremiah tried to hold back but he couldn’t. Once we hear the word of God, we can’t un-hear it. Even when it makes us unpopular and causes us to lose friends. 

“then within me there is something like a burning fire shut up in my bones; I am weary with holding it in, and I cannot”

After further reflection, Jeremiah realized that he can’t hold it in. The word of God burns within his bones. In the words of St. Paul, “woe to me if I do not evangelize.”

Jeremiah’s prophetic inspiration is irresistible. In Exodus 24:17; Deuteronomy 4:24; 9:3; Isaiah 33:14, Yahweh is said to be a consuming fire. Here Jeremiah applies this imagery to God’s word.

We have to be totally in love with God or else we will not do it.

“Love is good, then, having wings of burning fire as it flies through the breasts and hearts of the saints and consumes whatever is material and earthly but tests whatever is pure and with its fire makes better whatever it has touched. This fire the Lord Jesus sent on earth, and faith shone bright, devotion was enkindled, love was illuminated, and justice was filled with splendor”. Isaac, or the Soul 8.77. ~ Ambrose,  Wenthe, D. O. (Ed.). (2009). Jeremiah, Lamentations (p. 157). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.

Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 63:2-9

“your steadfast love is better than life” 

This love enables us

2nd Reading: Romans 12:1-2

“present your bodies as a living sacrifice”

Sacrifice is not about “giving up things” but rather doing whatever is possible to fulfill our greatest desire. 

Christian sacrifice is all about love. When you love someone, you want that love to grow. So what do you do to make sure it happens? If you do nothing at all, what you love will corrupt. Thus, you go out of your way to give yourself to whatever comes 1st in that relationship – no matter what it is and no matter what the cost. 

“holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.”

We obey this command to “offer ourselves” in each Eucharistic prayer when we “Lift up our hearts” – “We lift them up to the Lord.” We are placing our lives on the altar along with the offering of bread and wine – so that our lives, along with the bread and wine, can be transformed by God into something even more pleasing to Him.

Gospel: Matthew 16:21-27

“killed, and on the third day be raised”

“Whenever he speaks about “taking up the cross” of suffering, Jesus also speaks about the resurrection and the final judgment. Why do you think he always talks about the resurrection whenever he teaches about the Cross?” ~ Brandt Pitre

And Peter took Jesus aside and began to rebuke him saying, “God forbid it, Lord!” 

Peter’s misguided love –  real love is not the love which holds the knight at home, but the love which sends him out to obey the commandments of the chivalry which is given, not to make life easy, but to make life great. It is quite possible for love to be so protecting that it seeks to protect those it loves from the adventure of the warfare of the soldier of Christ, and from the strenuousness of the pathway of the pilgrim of God. What really wounded Jesus’ heart and what really made him speak as he did, was that the tempter spoke to him that day through the fond but mistaken love of Peter’s hot heart.

“If anyone wants to become my follower, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me”

“Whatever is hard in his commands is made easy by love” (St. Augustine)

Denying yourself is also a learning of the language of true love. Imagine, said the great Danish philosopher Kierkegaard, a purely human situation. Two young people love each other. But they belong to two different nations and speak completely different languages. If their love is to survive and grow, one of them must learn the language of the other. Otherwise, they will not be able to communicate and their love will not last. This, Kierkegaard said, is how it is with us and God. We speak the language of the flesh, he speaks that of the spirit; we speak the language of selfishness, he that of love. Denying yourself is learning the language of God so that we can communicate with him, but it is also learning the language that allows us to communicate with each other. We will not be able to say “yes” to the other — beginning with our own wife or husband — if we are not first of all able to say “no” to ourselves. Keeping within the context of marriage, many problems and failures with the couple come from the fact that the man has never learned to express love for the woman, nor she for the man. Even when it speaks of denying ourselves, we see that the Gospel is much less distant from life than it is sometimes believed.

“For the Son of Man is to come with his angels in the glory of his Father, and then he will repay everyone for what has been done.”

Life is going somewhere – and life is going to judgment.

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