O Lord, we pray that your grace may always precede and follow after us, that we may continually be given to good works; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.
A reading from Jeremiah 15:15-21
15 O Lord, you know; remember me and visit me, and take vengeance for me on my persecutors. In your forbearance take me not away; know that for your sake I bear reproach. 16 Your words were found, and I ate them, and your words became to me a joy and the delight of my heart, for I am called by your name, O Lord, God of hosts. 17 I did not sit in the company of revelers, nor did I rejoice; I sat alone, because your hand was upon me, for you had filled me with indignation. 18 Why is my pain unceasing, my wound incurable, refusing to be healed? Will you be to me like a deceitful brook, like waters that fail? 19 Therefore thus says the Lord: “If you return, I will restore you, and you shall stand before me. If you utter what is precious, and not what is worthless, you shall be as my mouth. They shall turn to you, but you shall not turn to them. 20 And I will make you to this people a fortified wall of bronze; they will fight against you, but they shall not prevail over you, for I am with you to save you and deliver you, declares the Lord. 21 I will deliver you out of the hand of the wicked, and redeem you from the grasp of the ruthless.”
The Word of the Lord.
Response: Thanks be to God.
1 Be my judge, O Lord, for I have walked innocently; *
my trust has been in the Lord; therefore I shall not fall.
2 Test me, O Lord, and prove me; *
examine my heart and my mind.
3 For your loving-kindness is ever before my eyes, *
and I will walk in your truth.
4 I have not dwelt with evildoers, *
neither will I have fellowship with the deceitful.
5 I have hated the company of the wicked, *
and will not sit among the ungodly.
6 I will wash my hands in innocence, O Lord, *
and so will I go to your altar,
7 That I may lift up the voice of thanksgiving *
and tell of all your wondrous works.
8 Lord, I have loved the habitation of your house *
and the place where your honor dwells.
9 O take not away my soul with the sinners, *
nor my life with the bloodthirsty,
10 Whose hands are full of wickedness, *
and their right hand full of bribes.
11 But as for me, I will walk innocently; *
O deliver me, and be merciful unto me.
12 My foot stands firm; *
I will praise the Lord in the congregations.
A reading from Romans 12:1-8
12 I appeal to you therefore, brothers,[a] by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.[b] 2 Do not be conformed to this world,[c] but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.[d]
3 For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned. 4 For as in one body we have many members,[e] and the members do not all have the same function, 5 so we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another. 6 Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, in proportion to our faith; 7 if service, in our serving; the one who teaches, in his teaching; 8 the one who exhorts, in his exhortation; the one who contributes, in generosity; the one who leads,[f] with zeal; the one who does acts of mercy, with cheerfulness.
The Word of the Lord. Response: Thanks be to God.
The Holy Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ according to Saint Matthew 16:21-27 Response:
Glory to you, Lord Christ.
21 From that time Jesus began to show his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised. 22 And Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him, saying, “Far be it from you, Lord![a] This shall never happen to you.” 23 But he turned and said to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a hindrance[b] to me. For you are not setting your mind on the things of God, but on the things of man.” 24 Then Jesus told his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.25 For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. 26 For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what shall a man give in return for his soul? 27 For the Son of Man is going to come with his angels in the glory of his Father, and then he will repay each person according to what he has done.
The Gospel of the Lord. Response:
Praise to you, Lord Christ.
JEREMIAH 15-16 On the basis of his loyalty to the will of the Lord, Jeremiah pleads for divine help. He wants vengeance to be meted out by the Lord on those who have opposed his prophet. Jeremiah does not want the Lord to be patient with his enemies and withhold vengeance on them until he is gone. Jeremiah wants vindication in this life. In effect Jeremiah is pleading that God will not be so lenient with his persecutors as to give them time to destroy him. In a striking figure he recalls his first reception of God's message and how he made it his own. It symbolizes the assimilation of God's revealed truth. Jeremiah was every inch a chosen servant of the Lord. His chief delight was in God's word.
17-18 Jeremiah describes his solitariness in the midst of his people. Because he sided with God, he was cut off from the joys of those around him. He was filled with God's indignation against their sin. It greatly pained him to be out of step with his contemporaries. The hand of God was on him; the constraint of God's truth weighed on his spirit. The rhetorical questions in v.18 imply that for the moment Jeremiah gave way to despair. He was so deeply and continuously wounded that he wanted to know whether God had abandoned him and had proved unreliable. After all, his own family had betrayed him. The "deceptive brook" was a familiar figure. In Palestine many brooks have water only after a downpour. At other times a traveler may be disappointed if he looks for water in them. In his distraught state, Jeremiah charged the Lord with failure to fulfill his promises to strengthen him in his resistance against his enemies.
19-21 The Lord tells Jeremiah that if he gives up his doubts and reproaches, avoids worthless statements, and holds to worthy ones, he may continue to be his prophet and mouthpiece. Jeremiah himself will have to undergo the refining process so that he can cleave to precious words, not worthless ones. He must lift his people and not let them drag him down to their level. His only hope is to trust more fully in God and be faithful to the message, whatever response it brings; God promises assurance and victory. These verses are practically a recommissioning of Jeremiah, in which God promises to keep him from the power of the violent wicked. There were such men in Judah, who finally assassinated Gedaliah, the governor of Judah, after the fall of Jerusalem. This word of encouragement was sufficient for the prophet's need; though opposition to his message mounted perilously, he never again complained to the Lord as he did in vv.10, 15-18.
PSALM 26: 1-3 For God to "Vindicate" someone is for him to declare his servant to be innocent and to avenge himself of the wicked. In his own heart the psalmist knows that he has walked with God in integrity. Linked with this prayer for vindication is a petition for God to examine his deepest and innermost recesses, his "heart" and "mind." The psalmist offers himself completely for a total examination and desires divine approval. Thus vindication is not primarily an expression of God's righteous wrath and indignation against the wicked but a reassuring word from God.
The psalmist believes that God has motivated and enabled him to walk in God's truth with integrity of heart. God's presence is an authentic experience for him. He is not a man of self-confidence, for he has trusted "in the LORD." "Without wavering" and "continually" describe the kind of trust the psalmist has in his God.
11a In contrast to bloodthirsty and evil men, the psalmist affirms his determination to continue in his walk with the Lord. Evil presents no temptation for him. He knows the One in whom he believes and is determined to cling to him in devotion, regardless of external circumstances.
ROMANS 12:2 A faithful relationship to God changes our relationship to the world. To be conformed to this world is to stand for and pursue the world's values and pleasures. Mind (Gr. nous) here is more than the intellect; it is the highest faculty of human nature, encompassing the mind and heart. With this faculty one sees and comprehends God.
12:3-8 We live out our faithful relationship to God in the Church, the body of Christ, with humility (v. 3), sober thoughts (v. 3), and proper use of spiritual gifts (vv. 4–8). Ministry requires functioning together in diversity. The seven gifts mentioned here (vv. 6–8) should not be understood to be exhaustive; rather these gifts represent all the infinite gifts God has given to us.
MATTHEW 16:21-23 After Peter's confession, Jesus reveals the true nature of His messiahship: the mystery of His Passion. It was expected that the Messiah would reign forever, so the idea that Christ would die was perplexing to Peter and remained scandalous to the Jews even after the Resurrection (1Co 1:23). Peter unwittingly speaks for Satan, as the devil did not want Christ to fulfill His mission and save mankind through suffering and death.
In summary of vv.13-23, Peter both did and did not understand the truth about Jesus. Along with the other disciples, he understood much more than the crowds; yet even so he did not reach full understanding until after the Resurrection. The juxtaposition of vv.13-20 and vv.21-23 clearly shows the (at best) qualified understanding of Jesus' disciples at this point in salvation history.
16:24 The cross, a dreaded instrument of Roman punishment, is also a symbol of suffering by Christians in imitation of Christ. We practice self-denial for the sake of the love of God and the gospel. Accepting this suffering is not a punishment, nor is it an end in itself, but a means to overcome the fallen world for the sake of the Kingdom and to crucify the flesh with its passions and desires (Gal 5:24).
16:25 The central paradox of Christian living is that in grasping for temporal things, we lose the eternal; but in sacrificing everything in this world, we gain eternal riches that are unimaginable (1Co 2:9).
16:26 What will a man give in exchange for his soul? This question emphasizes the utter foolishness of accumulating worldly wealth or power, for none of this can redeem man's fallen soul, nor benefit a person in the life to come.