Homily – August 30, 2020

In last week’s gospel we heard Jesus commending Peter for his answer to the question, ‘who do you say I am?’ Peter answered; you are the Christ, the Son of the living God.

Today reveals a lot more about himself. He will go to Jerusalem where he will be rejected by the religious authorities, the priests and many of the people. He will be put to a shameful death. The disciples were stunned to silence. Not Peter. ‘God forbid Lord, this must never happen to you. Last week we heard Jesus call Peter a rock, this week we heard Jesus call Peter a stumbling block, a Satan. Just as Satan tried to lure Jesus away from his Father’s will at his temptations in the desert, Peter wanted Jesus to avoid his future rejection and death. Both tempters were rejected.

Jesus spells it all out for us; ‘if anyone wants to be a follower of mine let him deny himself, take up his cross and follow me. What will it profit anyone of us to win the lottery and lose his own integrity? Jesus was able to read the handwriting on the wall. He made an ever-growing of powerful enemies. Their desire to get rid of him was no secret. Like Jeremiah Jesus foretold the sufferings of those who worked for the coming of God’s kingdom; ‘All the day I am the object of laughter, everyone mocks me. The word of the Lord has brought me derision and reproach all day long.

The German Lutheran pastor Bonhoeffer wrote book titles, The Cost of Discipleship. Fidelity to Jesus demands a willingness to let go of security, approval and comfort and take us the cross of love and service and give ourselves away to family, friends and neighbours and strangers.

To be a follower of Jesus means we stand with the little people of Toronto. It all starts with the feet up. The challenge of the gospel, the grace of the gospel come from where we are. Toronto. The homeless street people, the men and women out of work, the families that depend on food banks, the wives and children hiding in women’s shelters, the family who can’t mourn for and honor their dead because of the virus.

We may not be able to do all that much but we can support church and government agencies who work to support these good people. May we not be part of what Pope Francis calls the global indifference that plagues so many people.

To be a follower of Jesus can mean we be ridiculed and mocked for being bleeding hearts, naïve socialist do gooders as we resist bigotry, racism and homophobia. Such stances could cost us friends but they will not cost us our lives.

Our personal Satans will tell us this is too hard, too costly, too naïve. Our answer must be; get behind me Satan, you are a stumbling block to my being a faithful follower of the Christ who loved and gave his life for me.