No Wonder You Have So Few Friends

Sunday August 30, 2020 The Twenty second Sunday in Ordinary Time (Cycle A)

The tie in between today’s readings: For the Love of God

Psalm 63:1-9, Jeremiah 20:7-9, Romans 12:1-2, Matthew 16:21-27

As St. Teresa of Avila made her way to her convent during a fierce rainstorm, she slipped down an embankment and fell squarely into the mud. The irrepressible nun looked up to heaven and admonished her Maker, “If this is how You treat Your friends, no wonder You have so few of them!”

We’ve all been there with St. Teresa, when it seems that no good deed goes unpunished and our frustration brings out at least a little annoyance with the Almighty. It doesn’t seem right! It doesn’t seem fair! It’s not what we signed up for…or is it?  Our Lord, in no uncertain terms, tell us today’s gospel reading in Matthew that, with discipleship, there is a cross to carry. When it comes to crosses, it only ends one way. Somebody dies! Jesus says, “Count the cost before you start” (Luke 14:28-35). So, considering cross bearing and cost counting, what’s a little dunk in the mud? Her point is that it doesn’t make sense for a God who loves us and wants us to come to Him to treat us this way. From a human point of view, honey attracts better than vinegar. Our Lord tells us that the answers comes when see it from God’s perspective.

Continuing our look at today’s gospel, Peter reprimands our Lord when He talks about His crucifixion. Jesus rebukes him, “Get behind Me, Satan (Peter)! You are not setting your mind on God’s interest, but man’s.” It makes perfect sense to avoid suffering in this life and Peter was only trying to spare Jesus. However, God looks at the bigger picture. The cross was necessary for the Father’s salvation plan to be completed in Christ. As His follower, our crosses create His image in us and make us fit for glory. Our reading in Romans 12:1-2 urges us to renew our thinking. We should present ourselves as holy sacrifices, and through the working of God’s will in our lives, be transformed. Temporal sufferings are more bearable when we consider our eternal sanctification…besides, there are rewards to boot.

But rewards and some abstract idea of being transformed won’t be enough to keep you in the game. You need something deeper to preserve you through the buffeting that the world, the flesh, and the Devil will throw at you. You need to be in love with God. Our Old Testament reading today shows Jeremiah lamenting to the Almighty over his treatment for being the Lord’s prophet. He blames God for pretty much tricking him into taking on the unenviable job of proclaiming a coming judgement to a populace who will not repent. Everyone laughs, mocks, and disparages him constantly. Frankly, he’s fed up. In verse 9, we see it is Jeremiah’s love for God which spurs him on in his mission. It is preferable for him to face the opposition of his wicked countrymen than to give up on the Lord whom he loves and loves him. God told Jeremiah from the beginning that this would be a tough job, but the Almighty promised to have his back if he stayed true (Jeremiah 1:1-19).This promise of God to be with His loving children through trials is echoed in today’s reading in Psalm 63:1-9 and throughout scripture for that matter. It is our comfort and confidence that if God is for us, who can be against us (Romans 8:31).  Despite his persecutions, Jeremiah never lost his faith (Lamentations 3:25). Despite her difficulties, St Teresa never lost her joy. Even though they had different paths and different crosses to bear, it was their loving personal relationships with God that saw them through. St Teresa’s insight is picked up in an article by Catholic link: https://nolacatholic.org/news/7-tips-for-happiness-from-st-teresa-of-avila. A must read! Let the saints and prophets that have gone before us be our inspiration. Let us take up our own crosses and follow our Savior to wherever He may lead us. Love God! Persevere through persecutions! Be joyful in trials! There is glory on the other side!

2 thoughts on “No Wonder You Have So Few Friends

  1. Nancy Mazza Naumann

    Andy, This is one of my favorite’s.
    A wonderful message/reminder, to keep an unshakable trust In God. Thanks for sharing. I will sign up with your blog.

    Like

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