Pentecost 3, Year A, 2020, June 21, 2020

Title:Pentecost 3, Year A, 2020, June 21, 2020

The readings of Pentecost 3 help us to recognize that God’s strength will always help us as we witness to our faith. In the face of terror, the prophet Jeremiah remembers God’s promises. Paul reminds the Roman community that God’s great gift of salvation overflows freely. In the gospel, Jesus reassures his disciples of their great worth to God.

In the Old Testament, In a series of six laments or “confessions” Jeremiah reveals more of his personal struggle than any other Old Testament prophet.

Jeremiah has been beaten and put in stocks for announcing the Lord’s judgment (19:14–20:2). He then accuses the Lord of having deceived him since it hasn’t happened. Though he preaches God’s word of judgment, destruction has not come and Jeremiah is feeling like a fool. But he cannot keep silent. Jeremiah’s own proclamation, “terror is on all around,” (6:25, 20:3) has been turned against him as a mockery (20:10). Yet he recalls the promise of the Lord’s presence (1:8, 19, 15:20) and recommits himself to God’s purposes.

Paul in the Epistle also has to defend himself. Paul defends himself against the charge (3:8; 6:1) that his emphasis upon grace as a free gift not dependent upon works was an encouragement to sin (5:20). He replies by pointing out the fact and nature of the Christian’s new relationship to God: in baptism the Christian has died to sin. The waters of baptism identify the believer with Christ, indeed with the very act of redemption–his death and resurrection. By Jesus’ act, the penalty for sin–death–has been paid; baptism credits us with that payment. The Christian has put off, like old clothes, the old “body of sin”–not the physical body as opposed to the soul, but the sinful impulses of both body and mind. The Christian is no longer enslaved to sin, for Paul asserts that death in baptism frees one from sin.

Today’s Gospel reading is a part of Jesus’ instructions to the Twelve (10:1-42), whom he sends out to continue his ministry. Matthew, however, indicates that he sees persecution as part of the normal life of the Church rather than as a special sign of the end.Disciples are encouraged three times (10:26, 28, 31) not to fear what any person can do. In contrast to fearing people, the fear of God is an open, reverent, humble awe. The death and resurrection of Jesus show that those who kill the body cannot separate disciples from God and from fullness of life. The denial or acknowledgement of Christ is the touchstone of each disciple’s destiny.

We often see Jesus as a lovely man who is close to children and carries lambs. Part of this is true but the message of Jesus does tear lives apart. There is a heavy cost of discipleship that is part of the Gospel. It does divide families.

The Christian message is counter cultural since it emphasizes the transformation of culture according to the principles that are in the Gospel which comes down to love. We should not use religion to create band aid solutions that soft pedal the gospel.

Jesus was offensive to the culture he grew up in, both the Jews and the Roman. People were called upon to choose the path they would tread.

Religion challenges our predominant culture. The largest temptation is trying to fit faith into our lives rather than for it to provide the direction. Discipleship’s price is to purge of us of temptation and to choose the way of Jesus, to know the power of life.