Today’s reflection is for the Twenty-second Sunday in Ordinary time, August 30, 2020, and the readings can be found by clicking here.
Last week we learned that the Spirit of God speaks to us in the depths of our heart, and Peter was praised for his willingness to allow God to overwhelm his human body and mind so that he might think and speak the words of God, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” That was beautiful and Jesus recognized Peter for it.
This week I’m sad to say that Peter is being admonished by Jesus as he says, “Get behind me Satan! You are an obstacle to me.” And so it goes with the human condition. I think it’s true in my own life as well. I’ve got some great moments when I am entirely convinced that God is so proud of what I do and what I say…and then there is the rest of the time…okay, most of the time, when, with the Spirit of God within me, I still act in a merely natural way, a merely human way. And that’s sad. We are made for so much more.
This commitment to growth in holiness, in spite of human weakness is called sanctification. Each day we grow more holy so that our words and actions are pleasing to God and reflect the life and teachings of Jesus Christ. I think the important lesson today is that Peter is not so different from all of us. Some days he’s hot and some days he’s cold, and so are we. In spite of his weaknesses, however, he still accepted the responsibilities given to him by Jesus Christ and both rose to the occasion and advanced the Kingdom of God. Peter wasn’t perfect, and neither are we. Peter failed time and time again, and so do we. But Peter continued to follow Jesus, proclaimed the Kingdom, and saved souls for God, and so should we.
The hard part is this whole humanity thing. We often live down to our base self instead of rising to our redeemed self. This is St. Paul’s admonition to the Romans. He urged them to offer their whole body as a living sacrifice to God. That makes sense, actually. If our soul belongs to God, but our body has a tendency to turn away from God, then we should offer our sinful self to God as a beautiful gift. We give God our sinful hands, mouth, eyes, head and heart, and He transforms them into weapons for righteousness and holiness.
This is exactly what happens at the Eucharist. We bring God imperfect bread, imperfect wine, and imperfect wealth. We place those on the altar of sacrifice, and by the power of the Holy Spirit and the Eucharist prayer, the imperfect is transformed into the perfect body, blood, soul, and divinity of Jesus Christ. God has been transforming the natural and imperfect to supernatural and perfectly holy from the beginning of time. St. Paul tells the Romans “not to conform but to be transformed” so that they and we may know God’s pleasing and perfect will.
We are not perfect–Peter wasn’t either. But if we are willing to sacrifice our life on the altar of God, God will transform us. God will change and purify our thinking and feeling so that we, day by day, become more like him. And the Eucharist is the key to that transformation. We give imperfect gifts that are transformed into Jesus, we receive Jesus in the Eucharist, and are transformed into Him. We become what we consume day by day. We carry our cross and we follow him. Like Peter and Paul and the great saints of the Church, our life is in Christ and more and more we think not as humans do, but as God does. Amen.
I’m excited to announce that my ordination to the Permanent Diaconate is just three weeks away. The ordination will be livestreamed and will be put up on the Diocesan YouTube page and Facebook page. Below are the links for both. Please continue to keep me and my family in prayer.