Proper 17 – Year A

Exodus 3:1-15; Psalm 105:1-6, 23-26, 45c; (or Jeremiah 15:15-21; Psalm 26:1-8); Romans 12:9-21; Matthew 16:21-28

“We must be liberated from ourselves as the reference point for reality.” – Richard Rohr

In Matthew 16:25 Jesus summarizes this whole Gospel passage. He says that if we want to save our life we need to lose it. And if we lose our life for his sake we will find it. A contradiction? Hardly! It’s a paradox, two seemingly contradictory truths harmoniously lying side by side. (See Greek below) When we think dualistically, we tend to put things in opposition as if inherently alien to each other. But reality is not that disconnected. So, how can we lose our life and thereby find it? We individuals make the mistake of thinking that we are the center of reality, the focal or reference point of the universe. However, all does not revolve around you or me. When we thus misplace ourselves out of misguided self-interest we lose our life, thinking we have found it. We miss God’s expansiveness when we become myopic. Jesus says that we need to deny ourselves, disinherit ourselves. (Matthew 16:24 – See Greek below) We then “paradoxically” inherit everything, become connected to everything. When we are self-centered, neurotically holding on to what we feel is ours by right, we miss the forest for one tree. To lose our life means to set ourselves free to be part of a greater whole. There are some definite advantages to living this way. When we may be slandered or hated or overlooked we can realize that we are not the reference point of this negative activity and energy. We are free to forgive because ultimately no one can hurt us. We are not spiritually disabled. This is living a divine way as Jesus recommends to Peter. (Matthew 16:23) Another advantage of living this way is that if we are not so full of ourselves there is room for God and room for others in our life. Now that is finding life.

Greek

                The English word “paradox” comes from two Greek words meaning to think (therefore the English “dox”) and along side of, beside or in the presence of (therefore the English “para”).

In Matthew 16:24 Jesus says “deny” themselves. The root meaning of the Greek word is literally to disown or disinherit.

Haiku

Let it go, let be.

Seek out God’s outsized endless.

Life found now so saved.