You Duped Me, O Lord

Homily for 22nd Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year A)
August 30, 2020
Sacred Heart, EGF – 8:00 AM
St. Francis, Fisher – 10:00 AM

Focus:             You duped me, O Lord, and I let myself be duped.
Function:         Embrace the Cross


You duped me, O Lord, and I let myself be duped.

Jeremiah the prophet – a story that started out so hopeful and with so much promise.

His calling:

God speaks to him:

Before I formed you in the womb, I knew you. 
Before you were born, I dedicated you. 
A prophet to the nations, I appointed you.

Beautiful words.

Jeremiah responds:

Ah, Lord God!  I do not know how to speak; I am too young!

God says:

Say not, “I am too young.”
To whomever I send you, you shall go;
whatever I command you, you shall speak.
Do not be afraid of them,
for I am with you to deliver you.

Then the LORD extended his hand and touched my mouth, saying to me,
See, I place my words in your mouth!

Today I appoint you over nations and over kingdoms,
to uproot and to tear down,
to destroy and to demolish,
to build and to plant.[1]

Beautiful.

Jeremiah is then sent to preach the coming captivity of Jerusalem.  He is a prophet of doom.  No one wanted to hear his message.  He was rejected and branded as a traitor.  He started out with so much promise, now he finds himself suffering greatly.

And so, in his anguish, he cries out to God:

You duped me, O Lord, and I let myself be duped.

Here is the couple, young and in love, infatuated with each other, as their wedding day approaches.  The image of family life begins at the altar with the beautiful white dress, hair perfectly in place (the groom’s and hers…), corsages bursting with color, everyone is all smiles as they exchange their “I do’s”.

Five years later, here is that same couple.  The honeymoon is over.  Dirty clothes are on the bedroom floor instead of in the hamper, kids are crying, bills are unpaid.  This one wet the bed, that one threw his orange juice on the floor, and the third one just gave his sister a haircut.

I just want a nap and some peace and quiet.

You duped me, O Lord, and I let myself be duped.

Here is the young man approaching his ordination day.  Six years of seminary have prepared him for this moment.  Soon he will be celebrating Mass, hearing confessions, anointing the sick, acting in the person of Christ to bring the sacraments to the people of God to aid them on their journey toward heaven.  He’s ordained, it’s glorious, everyone wants to hug him and receive a priestly blessing.

Here is that same man 3 years later.  Priesthood in the time of corona.  Unable to visit the hospital to anoint the sick.  Preaching the Mass of the Lord’s supper without the people of God present.  An early Sunday morning is in order as it was a busy week and the homily is not ready for the 8 AM Mass.  No more handshakes, it might spread the virus.  He visits his nieces and nephews and family life starts to look pretty good in the time of corona.

You duped me, O Lord, and I let myself be duped.

Here is the teacher preparing her lesson plans during the first year.  She is not much older than her students.  They think she’s cool.  They look up to her.  She is making a difference in their lives.

Here is that same teacher 7 years later.  Teaching to a computer screen in March, wearing a mask in front of her classroom in September.  She’s no longer that cool.

You duped me, O Lord, and I let myself be duped.

Here is the parishioner praying to be open to God’s will…drawn to a neighbor they don’t get along with or don’t know all that well.  There’s a whisper in the heart:

“Do an act of kindness.  Stop and visit with them.”

“Really, Lord, are you sure?”

They are convicted.  Fire in the chest, a nagging thought that won’t go away. 

They do it.

The neighbor goes on and on, complaining about the world in which we live.  On the other side of the political divide.  The parishioner can’t get away.

Or the neighbor gives them a quizzical look when they stop to visit because the parishioner has never done this before.  The conversation is awkward and the parishioner leaves wondering why they even bothered.

You duped me, O Lord, and I let myself be duped.

A heresy of our time: “the prosperity Gospel.”

“Become a disciple and you’ll be happy.”
It’s a half-truth.
You’ll be happy, yes, but that happiness comes at a cost.
The cost, the price, is the cross.

Christianity has the cross at its center.
A crossless Christianity is no Christianity at all.

The Gospel – the Good news – is that Christ suffered for us so that we could be redeemed and forgiven of our sins.

The Gospel – the Good news – is NOT that there will be no suffering.  It is that Christ suffers WITH US and FOR US.

The Gospel – the Good news – is that the Suffering of the Cross leads to the Glory of the Resurrection.

The suffering is not the end.  It is part of the path.

Jesus says, “Take up your cross and follow me.”
St. Paul says, “Offer your bodies as a living sacrifice.”

Lose yourselves to gain eternity.
Lose yourselves for the sake of love.

It is through the Cross that grace rushes in.

The blood of Christ that bought our redemption flows from wounded, suffering hands and feet and a pierced heart.

Throw out the cross and we throw out the means of our salvation.

Peter – denies the cross today.  Denies it 3 times during the Passion.  He will be filled with the Holy Spirit on Pentecost, and will be given the grace and strength needed for him to embrace his cross in Nero’s Circus in Rome, when he is crucified upside down for his witness to Christ.

Brothers and sisters, you too have the Holy Spirit.
You also have your cross.
Pray for the strength to carry it.

Maybe it’s not not what you expected.
It’s probably not what you’d have chosen.

But it is your call.
And there’s grace in it. 
There’s goodness in it. 
There’s beauty and life in it. 
There’s pain and suffering in it, yes, but there is also surrender and sanctification.

You duped me, O Lord, and praise God, I let myself be duped.


[1] Jeremiah, chapter 1

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s