..love is non-negotiable.. ..as title of a book on discipleship put it some years ago “costing not less than everything” ..as Jeremiah was to find out to his own cost.. nothing prepared him..he’d tried earlier to voice his objections, his lack of qualifications, his ongoing ability to under achieve & disappoint.. ..& God reminded him painfully & lovingly that in all this he had the very credentials God needed.. & Jeremiah’s story is our story is it not ?.. reluctant unworthy unwilling..& thereby chosen..
“..you have seduced me Lord, & I have let myself be seduced..” your will not mine.. ; Lord have mercy “..the word of the Lord has meant for me insult derision all day long” ..take up my cross.. ; Christ have mercy “..a fire burning in my heart..the effort to restrain it wearied me..” ..your will be done.. ; Lord have mercy May Almighty God have mercy on us, forgive us our sins & bring us to everlasting life. Amen.
“..& here in this classroom in this “School of the Lords Service”..where, in any special school, really special school worthy of its title, the key student [ the keyholder] is the weakest link..perhaps Shebna was removed from office for being an Anne Robinson.. her stern face would kill at 40 paces “you are the weakest link..goodbye!”..when God needs you to be a Peter, a builder of bridges & community..solid dependable, regularly getting it wrong, but a lovable likeable rogue, & always teachers favourite” the ending of last weekends homily..in a rich vein of gospels bringing our best & worst in Peter..rock keyholder, no shrinking violet, ever first to answer awkward & thorny question..wasn’t born with silver spoon in his mouth..a basic fisherman; slow learner a dour Yorkshireman of simplicity..& when Jesus tried to explain the unexplainable & incredible, Peter reacts true to form, gives it to Jesus bluntly lovingly protectively..”Heaven preserve you Lord, this must not happen to you!”..the thought of crucifixion as shocking & repulsive to Peter then as beheading by IS militants is to us today..but Jesus turns on him with hostility & disdain..why?..perhaps because he sees in Peter what he felt 3yrs earlier in himself, when he struggled with temptation from devil in desert; 3 invitations..to turn stones into bread ; to own the world, & to be exempt from harm, cross-free..”be off Satan”..a human Jesus struggles to resist temptation..too often we think with headcentred common sense instead of realising [making real] the fact that we & Peter have the grace ability & free will to choose heart centredly the way of the Cross..to know, like IS extremists, that there is life beyond death..but for us crucially for victim & perpetrator..how’s that for radicalisation? ..for victim resurrection, & for perpetrator redemption, given a genuine coming-to-one’s-senses moment & remorse after the event..don’t pause for too long to think on it before engaging with it in your heart..poor Peter & poor us so often rocked by revelations of a crucifixion & missing the real end as a real beginning “& be raised up on the third day” too many of us are Good Friday Catholics instead of Easter Sunday Christians..Peter missed point & moment, distracted by anger hostility protectionism, & the foretelling of the Resurrection passed over him..so when it did happen, he & other inner trusties were not just surprised but incredulous..ever the slow learners, spiritually illiterate..not SEN students but SSEN students..students with special spiritual educational needs..we find ourselves [find ourselves] in good company..& there is no escape from this difficult & challenging class & homily, hoping for the bell or watching the clock..Jesus takes them deeper into the reality of discipleship..theirs & ours..”take up your cross & follow me”.. I’ve left you the example, the directions, the route map, even footprints for you to tread in..keep to the track & keep religiously to the stride & pace of footprints you will find.. find possible..not easy but possible..lose sideline jettison anything & anyone that tries to tempt you off the tried tested safe secure path, & never think of selling out to the devil or to temptation..& why keep to the real road?..not because Matthew’s Jesus promises reward..sweeties, remission, pardon for good behaviour..incentive led religion..a tragic lesson plan..but because of the loving divine relationship between our God & ourselves, where Jesus looks steadily at us & loves us..as he did with rich young man who self appraised & self disappointed, who’d been led to believe he’d to earn his way to heaven ..for Peter the rich young man & us, a look & love not performance based but self sacrificial gift..him to you, & you to him“..you seduced me, & I allowed myself to be seduced”..to be smitten by God..does the ability to use gift of free will come any better? ..story of St John Vianny Cure d’Ars, a simple parish priest..after Mass the congregation would disperse except one elderly man..when Cure went out to visit flock man still sitting in Church..lunchtime & afternoons still at prayer; after few weeks Cure took courage & approached him to ask “what do you say to God when you sit here day after day?” old man smiled looked up at Cure “I look at him & he looks at me, & we are happy in each others company”..game set & match to SSEN students.. [ 22ndSunYrA Mt16;21-27]