Have you ever been seduced? No, seriously. Have you ever been seduced? Given the fact that the word is defined as the act of enticing, beguiling, or winning another over to a desired state or position, it seems safe to assume that every one of us has been seduced at least once in the course of our lives.
Some are seduced by love or its promise. Others yield to hatred or revenge. Some are seduced by power or luxury, leisure or prestige. Some are easy prey for trends in fashion and will spend vast amounts of money to wear a style or brand name popular at the moment. Advertising and sales are fueled by the art of seduction, targeting demographic groups, researching which colors, shapes and designs on packaging will cause people to buy a particular product over another. Even the placement of products in stores is intentional to manipulate the unwary shopper.
Obviously seductions vary; some are good and beneficial while others are evil and harmful. Both extremes are presented in today's Scriptures. Paul in his Letter to the Romans urges his readers not to conform themselves to this age, not to be seduced by the world, but rather to surrender to God's mercy which will transform and renew them.
In the Gospel, Peter, who moments before had confessed Jesus as the Messiah, gives way to the seduction of a royal messiah who would restore the fortunes of Israel. Glory and honor were what Peter expected; suffering and death were far from his mind, and so he acts as a Satan, one who seeks to mislead.
The prophet Jeremiah feels seduced (a better translation than duped) and overcome by the power of God. He finds himself helpless to do anything but preach a message he would rather not. And yet the God from whom he would like to flee also promised to be with him, to make him like a fortified city able to withstand the verbal and physical attacks that would come with his proclamation of God's word.
God continues to entice, beguile and try to win people away from sin to a life of grace. That is one seduction to which we all should succumb.
-Fr Sas, August 31 Homily
22nd Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year A