Jeremiah 20: 10-13; Romans 5: 12-15; Matt 10: 26-33
When I’m doing weddings, I have all my couples fill out a questionnaire and of course one of the questions is what marriage means for them. Working with young couples you get used to a lot of idealistic views and expectations that we know aren’t always the reality in our lives, no matter where we find ourselves committed. The wedding I had yesterday, though, the groom had written something different and I then commented on it at the wedding. He said something along the lines that it’s about giving 100%. I’ve met many that enter into this commitment thinking it’s 50-50. There’s two of us and we’ll somehow make it work. But those in committed relationships for awhile know it doesn’t work that way. As a matter of fact, it’s often what ends relationships. No matter the case, the call is to give yourself 100%, full heart, often to someone or something bigger than yourself, to live the mission given.
I believe it’s the same message we hear from Jeremiah and Jesus in today’s first reading and gospel. Jeremiah is probably the greatest example we have in Hebrew Scripture of the real struggle of moving to the place of fully committing to what God is asking. He’s young, naïve, and quite idealistic, and feels as if God has somehow deceived him into this whole gig he’s got as a prophet. He sees war, destruction, violence, and injustice, and no one wants to listen to him, and just finds himself tormented by the whole thing. It’s not until Jeremiah begins to make the pivot in his life and see that all the injustice that is going on in the world is also happening within himself and that is preventing him from giving it his all. He can’t fully commit to this God when his own heart remains divided, holding onto his own illusions and expectations of what it was supposed to be. He will learn to let go and surrender to love in order to be transformed into this prophetic voice. He will go on and give thanks to go but only after giving himself the space to struggle, and rub up against his own injustice before he can taste the freedom this God is offering him to send him on this mission. As Paul tells us today, it’s this grace that will push us through, even when we’re not feeling 100%. Otherwise, as he says, we’ll hold onto death and sin and our own injustice.
The same is true for the disciples as they are sent out on mission in today’s gospel. We jump ahead a few chapters from where we left off in ordinary time in February. The last we heard was from the Sermon on the Mount but today the message is still practically the same. The beatitudes end with the message that you will face persecution and today the first line is to fear no one. Jesus is fully aware of the human condition and what it is that the disciples will face in their own lives and this commitment that they are being called to in life. At first they are like Jeremiah, young and somewhat idealistic, but eventually the illusions start to fall away and they will find their own commitment being tested. They will be lured by fear, the threat of losing their own lives, persecution, and great darkness. They will witness it before their eyes and will be challenged to make the same pivot at Jeremiah to see it within themselves. If their mission is to be agents of peace and reconciliation and a more just society, they will first have to confront their own illusions and what they hold onto for self-preservation. Of course, we know that the twelve will move to that place and make that pivot to committing themselves with their whole heart to the mission that is being asked of them. As we hear from Jeremiah, it’s hard but it the demand of not only the gospel and the committed relationships that we’re in, whether marriage, priesthood, or however we commit ourselves, but also the demand of being a disciple for each of us.
We all know that we can never be 100%. It’s nearly impossible as humans and the human condition that we are all a part of, but it remains a process that we are invited into in our lives when it comes to not only our relationship with others but with God. It’s a struggle and something we must wrestle with ourselves, a constant letting go and surrendering to find that 100% within ourselves. More often than not, whatever we let go of or allow to die wasn’t necessary anyway. It’s something that has offered us security or even fed into our own fears, our own way of self-preservation. What are the fears we hold onto, our own ways of preserving ourselves? What holds us back, knowing full well that the way we see the world around us is the world within us? Where is the terror and injustice within our own hearts, keeping us from experiencing the freedom necessary to respond to God 100%? Our mission is to be agents of peace and reconciliation, agents of that grace and love and we do that when we allow ourselves to become just that, especially allowing ourselves to become the love that changes our hearts forever.