WHO DO YOU SAY JESUS IS?
Isa 50:5-9a; Ps 116:1-2, 3-4, 5-6, 8-9 (R.v.9); Jam 2:14-18; Mark 8:27-35
For about two weeks now, we have been reflecting on becoming authentic followers of Christ by being a reflection of the faith which we profess. Last two Sundays, Jesus accused the Pharisees of living hypocritical lives, and in the liturgy of last Sunday, he shows us what we need to do to prove that our faith is authentic.
Remember also that in the last two Sundays, we did note that the reason most people live hypocritical lives is for the avoidance of suffering and the pursuit of material gains. That is why most people run after miracles without making corresponding effort to build a strong faith. Today’s liturgy suggests that an understanding of the person of Jesus would help us to redirect our motives for following him and our understanding of what we need to do as his followers.
At the time the Gospel of Mark was written, there was great persecution in the Church and the believers were beginning to doubt if they were doing the right thing by following Jesus. Moreso, false teachers were beginning to instruct people on the wrong identity of Jesus. Hence, the Markan Jesus asks his disciples the question about his identity in order to correct the misconceptions.
According to the Gospel, following Peters Great Confession, this Jesus is the MESSIAH. That is all Peter could say. And that represents the mindset of the early Christians, who were getting confused. So the Markan Jesus added that that messiah is going to be a SUFFERING MESSIAH. This is what links the Gospel to the First Reading.
The suffering servant in the First Reading was able to bear all that came his way without complaint or contempt because he believes that God would not abandon him. That confidence in God was what led Jesus to embrace the way to the Cross a way that led to his glory.
As many of us would do today, Peter rebuked Jesus for introducing suffering into his mission. That led Jesus to also declare that not only him would have to suffer, but also those who follow him (cf. Mark 8:34).
We share in that suffering mostly by denying ourselves some pleasures in order to assist those who are in need. In such a way, we will be showing them the face of Jesus, who went about doing good (Acts 10:38). That is the message of St. James in the Second Reading.
So, who is Jesus to you? Are you making any effort to follow him with your cross and by helping him to alleviate the sufferings of others?
May the same Jesus grant us the wisdom to understand who he really is, and the courage to embrace the demands of knowing him. May he also save us from the hands of all that come against us. Amen.
Have an enlightening and fulfilled Sunday with the Lord. Peace be with you.