Homily for August 31, 2014
from Matthew 16:21-27. Year A
The Gospel reading for today continues the transition began in last week's lectionary reading. We are now in the movement of Jesus, both in emphasis and location, from his time of ministry -- the proclamation of the Good News of the Kingdom through his words and his works, to the time of his passion -- the accomplishment of the Good News of the Kingdom through his death and resurrection.
Before us today is a seminal text. Because it is the first of his passion announcements (Matthew records three), and because it is the hinge moment (from Matthew Hare) of Jesus' ministry, we can say that as far as his disciples are concerned, this is the turning point in their relationship with Jesus. It is at this point when the intentions of his ministry come to the surface most clearly, which confronts them (and us) with a decision.
Here, they face Isaiah's suffering servant motif, which Jesus has chosen to guide his world-view as Messiah. Here they are invited to join him in his good news view that involves the very real experience of suffering and death prior to resurrection and victory. And, here, they must decide to let loose of their own Messiah understanding in favor of his, or not.
In fact, a good way into the text is to notice the two invitations Jesus puts before his disciples, and by extension, to us:
1. An Invitation to UNDERSTAND what GOD is really doing in the Christ -- this involves a new way of thinking
2. An Invitation to FOLLOW the Christ’s actions which involve loss and gain -- this involves a new way of living