The day my mother passed away, her and I had a small argument.  We were going to go shopping, and when David and I went over, she wasn’t feeling well. She thought I was upset because we weren’t going shopping, but I was upset because she had insurance and the money and wouldn’t go to the doctor. A few minutes later she passed away, and I couldn’t tell her that I loved her and wasn’t mad.

Isaiah in our first reading tells us to “Seek the Lord while he may be found, call him while he is near.” In other words – don’t wait.

Don’t wait to tell God that you love him.

Don’t wait to accept his unconditional love and mercy

Don’t wait to do what is right and just.

 

The verses right before these in Isaiah Chapter 55 urge us to come to God.

          “All you who are thirsty, come to the water. You who have no money, come, buy grain and eat; come, buy grain without money, wine and milk without cost!  Pay attention and come to me; listen, that you may have life.”

 

God is just about begging us to come closer to him. To rely on him, to trust him. 

Perhaps we feel we are not deserving of that love and mercy. How could God love me?

No one is deserving – no one! But God’s love is not based on how deserving we are. So he cries out to us to come to him, eat and drink, so that we might have life, and that we may find him and rest in his love

And when we ask why? How can this be?  God’s answer is very clear –

“my thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways my ways. So high are my ways above your ways and my thoughts above your thoughts.”

God made us in his image, he made us to be his friends. We may not be able to understand why, but ultimately, does it matter if we do?  The closer we draw to him, the more we trust him, the more we learn about his ways and his thoughts.

 

Our Gospel today gives us a look inside God’s thoughts.   He doesn’t care if you started early in life or late in life, it doesn’t matter. You did what you were called to do – love God by loving one another.

It also shows us that it doesn’t matter how many saints have gone before us, our reward is the same – eternal life standing in God’s presence.

“Seek the Lord while he may be found, call him while he is near.”    Aben Ezra, a Jewish writer and commentator in the early 1100’s, and others interpret this as “seek the Lord in the place where he may be found.”

For them this was in the Temple.

 

For us?

Find him in the poor, the down trodden, the immigrants,

Find him in prayer and worship

Find him in the Word proclaimed and preached, and on the altar, freely given for you.

Find him in your heart – as St. Augustine says in his Confessions:

“For see, thou wast within and I was without, and I sought thee out there.”

 

So come, eat, drink.

 

 

In 1984, Poland was still under Communist control.  The Prime Minister ordered the crucifixes removed from classroom walls.  Catholic Bishops attacked the ban, which had stirred waves of anger and resentment across Poland.   Ultimately the government relented, insisting that the law remain in effect, but agreeing not to press for removal of the crucifixes, particularly in the schoolrooms.  But one zealous communist school administrator, the director of the Mietnow Agricultural College, took the crosses down from his seven lecture halls where they had hung since the school’s founding in the 20’s.   A few days later, a group of parents entered the school and hung more crosses.  The administrator promptly had these taken down as well.  The next day, two-thirds of the school’s six hundred students staged a sit-in. When heavily armed riot police arrived, the students were forced into the streets.  They then marched, crucifixes held high, to a nearby church where they were joined by twenty-five hundred other students from nearby schools for a morning of prayer in support of the protest.

The soldiers surrounded the church, but so did the press, and pictures from inside of students holding crosses high above their heads flashed around the world; so did the words of the priest who delivered the message to the weeping congregation that morning: “There is no Poland without a cross.”

Today, perhaps, the cross has come to symbolize comfort to us because we have had to sacrifice little in our lives. But the more we are called upon to carry our own crosses, the more we will understand the one Jesus carried to Golgotha.  Today’s Gospel challenges us to deny ourselves, take up our crosses and follow Jesus.

Jeremiah lived from about 650 B.C to about 580 B.C, and most of his work was done in Jerusalem.  When Jeremiah began his ministry the people of Israel had become so hardened by the numbing effects of their sinful ways that they no longer believed God, nor did they fear Him. Jeremiah preached for 40 years, and not once did he see any real success in changing or softening the hearts and minds of his stubborn, idolatrous people. The other prophets of Israel had witnessed some successes, at least for a little while, but not Jeremiah. He was speaking to a brick wall, to people who simply didn’t care about God or their religion. Judged by this world’s standards Jeremiah’s life was a failure. History shows that he gave them fair warning but the people of Israel ignored him and went on to suffer disaster. They lost everything. Their nation was torn asunder, their temple destroyed, and their leaders were carried off into captivity by their enemies...  Today’s passage in the first reading, we hear Jeremiah accusing Yahweh of tricking him and offers us a powerful description of someone suffering for obedience to his conscience.

Last week, we heard Peter proclaim that he believes Jesus is the Messiah. And Jesus told him that upon that faith he would build his church.  Today we hear what that faith will cost.  Remember, the disciples and the entire Hebrew people were still thinking of a Davidic Messiah, a conquering king to come in and rescue them from their oppression and restore Israel to its former glory – to make Israel great again!   That is why Peter couldn’t bear to hear or think of a suffering Messiah. Jesus rebuked him sternly, “Get behind me, you satan,” in an attempt to nullify this temptation to shrink away from the work for which Jesus had come.

Origen suggests that Jesus was saying to Peter: "Peter, your place is behind me, not in front of me. It's your job to follow me in the way I choose, not to try to lead me in the way YOU would like me to go."  Satan is banished from the presence of Christ, and Peter is recalled to be Christ's follower.   Like Peter and Jeremiah we are often tempted to judge the success or failure of our lives, our ministries by the world’s standards. But Jesus teaches that worldly success is not always the Christian way.

Jesus gives us three things to do as disciples: 1- deny yourself, get rid of selfish thoughts, desires and tendencies from our hearts and let God fill our hearts. Allow God to live in your heart and so make your life a living sacrifice to God. 2-pick up and carry your cross, carrying the cross with Jesus always means pain and suffering  Our personal sufferings become the cross of Jesus when we suffer by serving others selflessly; when we give of ourselves, our health, wealth, time and talents to others even when it hurts; when we join our physical, mental or emotional sufferings to Jesus’ and offer them with Him to the Father in reparation for our sins and those of the world; 3-follow Jesus, simply, as disciples of Christ, we should live our lives according to the word of God by obeying Jesus’ commandment of loving one another.