Today’s readings are interesting in terms of God’s interest in us. In brief, God is interested in our story. He never becomes indifferent to what is happening to us. So our special focus today is God’s leaning towards us; towards you. And this is at the heart of Christian witness: God’s divine Love is interested in us! When we pray in the words of the Psalmist, it is only seemingly a one-way communication: ‘O God, you are my God, for you I long.’ But this is not so. Our Gospel acclamation, the prayer with which we welcomed the Gospel, already shifted the emphasis: ‘May the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ enlighten the eyes of our mind, so that we can see what hope his call holds for us.’
God’s being interested in us lies at the heart of Christian witness. Whatever happens in the world, we are to live as sign posts to the truth that God has never lost interest in our story. In a world of religious indifferentism people are entrapped in their narcissistic ego. Without this witness we are creating an ego (‘me’) centered world.
That’s the value of the ‘Christian personalism’. First, we witness to that God is always interested in our personal stories. God is listening to Isaiah’s personal ordeals. For God, Isaiah’s vocation is precious, just as our personal vocations where we live. ‘You have seduced me, Lord, and I have let myself be seduced; you have overpowered me: you were the stronger.’ And then God listens to Isaiah’s need to be rescued: ‘Then there seemed to be a fire burning in my heart, imprisoned in my bones. The effort to restrain it wearied me, I could not bear it.’
Then, our second witness is that God never loses interest in us a praying community: ‘Think of God’s mercy, my brothers, and worship him, I beg you, in a way that is worthy of thinking beings, by offering your living bodies as a holy sacrifice, truly pleasing to God.’ God is tireless in forgiving and mercy.
The Gospel fulfils God’s witness to his faithful interest in our lives. Jesus is sent to take upon himself all the sins of the world. His Cross is the sign that, that, literally, for God all lives matter. ‘Jesus began to make it clear to his disciples that he was destined to go to Jerusalem and suffer grievously at the hands of the elders and chief priests and scribes, to be put to death and to be raised up on the third day. ’ (Mat 16:21-22)
So let us be challenged by the ending of the Gospel. How would you read Peter’s ‘protest’ to see the Son of God in sufferance for us? How would you read Jesus’ response in terms of our witness? ’If anyone wants to be a follower of mine, let him renounce himself and take up his cross and follow me.’
As followers of Christ, let us join him, and show through our lives and thinking that God, through his Love, is interested in the lives of our neighbours and communities. What forms of witness do you have in mind?
These are verbal Icons, expressions of how the world is seen from Saint Augustine's..