Sunday, March 4, 2012

Homily for the Second Sunday of Lent

 “You are setting your mind not on divine things but on human things."

How we live, how we struggle, how we love, how we let our selves down, how we sort things out, is all dependent on how we see things.

Our point of view in any situation is going to govern our response to what is said or is being done. Our difficulty is that we don’t always see as we need to, or we don’t see as God wants us to see.

This is the state we find peter in this morning. Peter knows that Jesus is the Messiah. He has all sorts of understanding of what that means. It may have meant some sort of warrior who would free Israel from oppression. He would be a political victor who would lead Israel to a life of peace and abundance.

Peter is about to find out that the way God sees things is different to how he humans see things.

Jesus tells Peter and the disciples that he, the Son of man must undergo great suffering,
and be rejected by the elders,
the chief priests,
and the scribes,
and be killed,
and after three days rise again

Peter doesn’t get it. This goes against all his ideas and dreams about the messiah. He has just confessed that he believes that Jesus is the Christ, then he gets this news.

It doesn’t tally with what he believes.
There is great dissonance between ideal and reality.

He rebukes Jesus, and Jesus casts Peter in the role of the great tempter, Satan, then
For you are setting your mind not on divine things
but on human things."

The way Peter is seeing things and the way God wants him to see are different.

But just previous to this passage, mark gives us a great clue to what is going on, with the healing of the blind man in Bethsaida.

Jesus lays hands on the man’s eyes, and asks him “Can you see anything?” The man looks up and says “I can see people, but they look like trees walking.” Then Jesus lays hands on his eyes again. The man looks intently, his sight is restored, and he sees everything clearly.

This is the same with Peter. He has rightly confessed that Jesus is the Christ, but he sees unclearly. His inability to accept the concept of the suffering messiah is like the blind man who sees people, but they look like trees walking.

He sees, but his perspective is off.  This like the first touch of Jesus on the blind man’s eyes. It will take a second touch for him to see clearly. This second touch won’t happen for Peter until after Jesus death and resurrection. It is only then that he will see clearly. It is only then that he will see as God wants him to see, not as he wants to see. But until then, Peter is setting his mind not on divine things but on human things."

Jesus follows this with what it will mean to be a disciple. This advice is for all who want to follow him, including us.
He does not offer us any easy way out. 
He does not offer us an easy way out of our trials.
He offers us a way through them.

This way through, is very counter cultural.

It was then, and in our world today it is even more so.
It goes against nearly everything our society and we in turn, stand for.
The way through requires seeing differently.
It requires seeing God It demands that we see ourselves differently.

Deny yourself.

Take up your cross.

To save your life you must lose it.

For what will it profit you to gain the whole world and forfeit your life?

When we follow these, we commit everything we have and are to God.
We give up our desires and our self interest to those of God.

But our society tells us to look after our individual wants and desires.
But to take up our cross means denying ourselves, not fulfilling our desires.

This is tough.

It requires us to see things not as we want to see them, but rather as God wants us to see them.

To take up our cross is to reorder our desires.

It is to bring to the surface the greatest desire: the desire that leaves beneath all desires and that only God can satisfy.

This desire that overwhelms all desires is the desire for God.

Following Christ means our minds and hearts are filled with this desire until every other desire pales in comparison.
Our desires are reordered, we see as God wants us to see.

When our minds are set on divine things rather than human things, our lives start to be reordered.

We realise that we don’t need to possess flash things to be satisfied.
We know that our value isn’t to be found in our wealth or possessions.
By looking toward the divine, we understand that what it is that makes us us is not the position we hold, or the power we wield, rather it is who we really are, it is how God sees us that find our true worth.

With our minds focused on God, our desires for control over ourselves and others start to seem meaningless and foolish.

We thrash around trying to force our will, but always to no avail.

By denying ourselves, taking up our cross, we reorder our desires to those God.

Our minds begin to be set on divine things.    

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