Bread In The wilderness
Father Carl Diederichs
All Saints Catholic Church

The scripture readings for August 31 are: Jeremiah 20:7-9, Romans 12: 1-2, and Matthew 16: 21-27. Again, I hope and pray that we not only read the scripture but also ponder how it can transform our lives. And the Gospel today will not go down easily for us. We hear the “Whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.” Wow.

Last week we heard Jesus praise Peter for knowing that Jesus is the Anointed, the Son of God. Today we get quite another story. Peter counsels Jesus that he would not die, God forbid that Jesus should die! Now Jesus calls Peter a devil, not a rock. How could Peter get it so wrong?

Jesus certainly did not want to die, as none of us do. He also knew already early in his ministry that if he kept up the harangue of the powerful religious leaders he, like many whistle-blowers today, would have a hard time and maybe even face death. Some think because Jesus really knew that Peter was correct and Jesus should not have to die for simply telling the truth, that Jesus got so angry. The devil made sense, it was so tempting not to go down the path leading to death for just speaking up for the poor. Just stop it, and live.

So, Jesus knew pretty early in the ballgame that his fate was sealed if he did not lighten up. And this challenge belongs to all those who claim to be Christian. The truth lies in the fact that we must give up our lives to save our lives. I hope and pray that your life will not end violently as Jesus’ life did.

But daily “death” comes from the difficult work of realizing that life is not all about you and your wishes and your private relationship with God. Your life must be about God, love, truth, others, the bigger world. And that can cause death to self and self-centeredness. We will not be the center of the universe as we think we are.

Your life is not about you. You and I are one little piece of the great Mystery of human life going on for billions of years. And what we must do is surrender to the Mystery that is God, a God bigger than you, more loving than you, more wonderful than you, and powerful enough to draw you in to the Mystery.

The bottom line is that Jesus died for caring about others so much that he could not allow the powers to continue to control the life and death of the poor, the weak, and disenfranchised. That’s what did it.

We will not get into trouble saying our prayers in private, worshiping God in the privacy of your home or church. You will get into trouble and “lose your life” when the reality of Jesus in your life is so compelling that you speak up, act up and be part of the arc of the universe that bends towards justice.