Reading1– Isaiah: 50: 5 – 9
Psalm: 116: 1 – 9
Reading:2– James 2: 14 – 18
Gospel – Mark 8: 27 – 35
In today’s Gospel, Jesus did not seem to be surprised by people’s unwarranted opinions about his identity, nor did he take time to deny them. He only posed the same question to his disciples.” Who do you say that I am?’ Peter was right in his answer on behalf of his and the other disciples’ faith: “You are the Christ.” But then the scoring –zero-proving event happened. When Peter was told that Jesus had to suffer and die that one statement he couldn’t digest and he acted before Jesus just as any other dumb human being. As we hear this from other Evangelists, Peter rebuked Jesus for telling them that he was going to Jerusalem to suffer that he had to undergo. Either it would have occurred due to the emotional human involvement Peter had with Jesus or his whole preoccoupation of him getting the leadership and the second place next to Jesus in their company by getting in the good book of Jesus.
Whatever it was, he was told he was wrong and Jesus rebuked him saying that he was Satan, an Archenemy to Jesus’ focus to fulfill his Father’s will. “Get behind me , Satan!” That was the harsh word addressed to Peter. It is identical with those words uttered by Jesus, to the tempter of the desert. Jesus never made any attempt at any moment of his life to deflect himself from the path that the Father has indicated to him. That was very vivid in Jesus’ mind because, he totally believed Isaiah’s prophecies about him as the Suffering Messiah, he was not just a Christ as acknowledged by Peter but also, a crucified One.
All the words of the Gospel are timely, but the dialogue of Caesarea Philippi is in an altogether special way. The situation has not changed. Also today, people have very diverse opinions on Jesus a prophet, a great teacher, a great personality. It has become fashionable to present Jesus in shows and novels. In customs and in the strangest messages. Having faith in Jesus of Nazareth as our
Messiah, both glorious and suffering, is a kind of leap into darkness. A leap must be taken that does not come from the flesh or from blood, but is a gift of God which must be accepted through the docility of an interior light, from which faith is born. Every day there are men and women who take this leap. Those who have taken this leap will not go back for anything in the world, and more than that, they are surprised to have been able to live for so long without the light and strength that comes from faith in Christ.
This leap of faith in Jesus is not a welcoming one, in the lives of millions of people. It is not only because the identity of ‘divinity’ is unrealistically and irrationally added to the mere human personality of a Jewish person, the Mary’s Son, but mainly because this Christ indicated himself as not only a ‘Triumphant Messiah’ but also a ‘Suffering Messiah.” This is the main factor that keeps many humans away from believing in him. Jesus consistently showed off his view about the human sufferings, especially his own Jesus’ heart was beating every moment of his life on earth the same words uttered by Isaiah which we heard in today’s first reading: “The Lord GOD opens my earth that may hear, and I have not rebelled, have not turned back. I gave my back to those who beat me, my cheeks to those who plucked my beard; my face I did not shield from buffets and spitting.”
Jesus was fully convinced that salvation would come from the sacrifice of himself and from “giving his life in ransom for many.” Regrettably we must state that Peter’s error has been repeated in history. Many inside the Church from its start till today have been behaving at certain times, as if, the Kingdom of God is of this world and should be affirmed with the victory over enemies, instead of doing so with suffering and martyrdom. Our faith-leap in the hands of Jesus as our Messiah demands also from another heroic act of going out of ourselves and doing good works for the betterment of other people’s lives. James writes about this in his letter today: If a brother or a sister has nothing to wear and has no food for the day, and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, keep warm, and eat well.”
But you do not give them the necessities of the body, what good is it? So also faith of itself, if it does not have works, it is dead. Denying oneself, suffering with willingness and surrendering to God and going out of oneself to reach out to the needy and helping them, are the demands from our Master
Jesus, to become part of his life and work. Not all would pay heed to such hardliner’s clarion call. Only persons of big heart, of generosity, openness and fortitude can listen and obey to Jesus.
Prayer: Lord, I seek to walk always in your presence. As you guide me through the land of the living, you keep my feet from stumbling and you dry the tears from my eyes. In sorrow and death, I call upon your name in faith. Incline your ear and hear me.
God bless . Have a wonderful Sunday