Twenty Second Sunday in Ordinary Time (A)
If anyone wants to be a follower of mine, let him renounce himself.
The Word This Week
A quick glance at last weeks Gospel reveals the interesting development of the story: last week, we heard Peter proclaiming that Jesus was the Messiah, and being given authority as a result. This week, Peter gets it wrong: he is rebuked by the Lord because he does not understand who the Messiah is. The Messiah is the one who will give everything for his people - even his own life. To be a follower of Jesus demands an understanding and acceptance of this fact, and a willingness to take up the cross as Jesus did. Our introduction to this is the prophet Jeremiah - also persecuted for doing and saying what was right. Have a look at the Twelfth Sunday in Ordinary Time, where this twinning of Jeremiah and prophecy of persecution also appears.
Notes for Readers
This section comes immediately before the section read on the 12th Sunday in Ordinary Time; the whole block is the cry of a prophet who has been arrested, beaten and threatened with death for proclaiming the word the Lord had entrusted to him. Here the prophet rails against God - but not because God has forced him into the work: no, rather he has been seduced. The prophet has been drawn into the work that God has given, so that now he cannot avoid it, even if he wanted to. There is a strange mixture of bitterness and deep faith in this reading - as if Jeremiah sees with utter clarity the danger of his mission, but is unable to resist it. He doesnt blame God; despite the threats, the prophet could not bear NOT to speak the Lords name any more. The image of seduction is particularly effective. In reading, try to understand what the prophet feels, and (without going over the top) read his words with that feeling. Be very careful to emphasise the last six lines, where Jeremiah says he cannot stop being a prophet, however hard it is.
A very simple message: being a follower of Jesus makes us somehow different. The world does not believe in sacrifice, and yet (see the Gospel) this is central to being a disciple. So we have to let our behaviour change, to fit our new mind. Work out the phrasing of these three sentences in advance: in each sentence identify the point to aim for - the core of the sentence, which will help its full meaning be grasped: for example, in the last sentence you may wish to aim for the word perfect, building up gradually through the list of what is
statements. However you phrase the reading, remember that you are speaking to the people sitting in front of you (or better, you are enabling