In the first reading, the prophet Jeremiah complains to God
about the cost of his faithfulness.
“All day I am an object of laughter, people mock me,” he says bitterly.
Not many people really want to be laughed at.
And no one wants what Jeremiah was describing.
I think of our friends who are Amish, or Mennonites, or
– as in the case of the folks you’ll see near here, German Baptist.
They all tend to embrace a simple lifestyle,
with distinctive clothes and hairstyle.
There must be many times, these hardworking,
peaceful folks get stares—and laughs.
I can only imagine what it might be like as a young person,
growing up in that movement,
yet very aware of a world of technology and modernity all around them.
But why do they do it?
Well, they are taking seriously
the words of our Lord in the Gospel
about whether we try to hold onto the world,
or whether we are willing to die to it.
I am not saying anything against technology –
that is not a Catholic mindset.
But we can surely take a lesson from these good people
About how we approach material and worldly things.
They remind us of a powerful truth:
The things we own, own us; the things we possess, possess us.
You think email and the Internet are useful tools? They are.
Yet how often do they command you—
rather than you commanding them?
It’s like the dog owner,
who dutifully takes the pet out for walks, no matter the weather.
And I won’t even speak of
what the owners are willing to pick up…afterward.
It makes you wonder, doesn’t it, who is the master?
And it’s just the same with all our stuff and gadgets and technology.
So here’s one application; here’s a challenge for you.
What are you, as a Catholic,
prepared to do to free yourself from these things?
Again, I’m not saying live without them.
But shouldn’t we have a measure of freedom regarding these things?
The reason we fast from food periodically
is so we aren’t slaves to our stomachs.
So can we fast from the Internet? TV? Email?
Food for thought.
The other point worth considering here
is whether we are prepared to face laughter and mockery,
for no other reason than that we follow our Lord Jesus Christ.
Peter was offended to consider
the Lord being mocked and tortured and killed.
Yet the Lord stops him short. “You’re not thinking as God does.”
God was absolutely willing
to undergo the humiliation and horror of the cross
for the salvation of the world.
And here’s what he said to Peter:
I’m walking a rough, ugly path to glory.
If you want to walk with me, that’s the road.
And he says the exact same thing to you and me.
You think you can get to heaven any other way but the cross?
Did you hear what Jesus just said? Just now?
There. Is. No. Other. Way.
You want to be with Jesus?
Go where he goes.