‘The Lord is my help, therefore I am not disgraced’
Reflections on the readings for the Twenty-fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time (September 12, 2021): IS 50:5-9; PS 116:1-2,3-4,5-6,8-9; JAS 2:14-18; MK 8:27-35
MISSIO offers “Mission In Scripture” to nurture a missionary heart, providing reflections on the missionary themes in the readings of Sundays, Feast Days and Holy Days.
“Whoever wishes to come after Me must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow Me. For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake and that of the gospel will save it” (Mark 8:34-35).
Jesus has a lot to teach His disciples. Today, He wants them to tell Him what other people say about Him. Who do they think He is? The Apostles readily answer, so they must have heard the crowds speculating about Him: John the Baptist or Elijah or another prophet. These answers are hardly surprising, given that so many have heard Him preach about the Kingdom of God. Then Jesus wants to know what they think. As often happens, Peter speaks up. “The Christ,” he says. As is often the case, Peter understands the truth, but in a limited way. So our Lord says they should not to talk about this. Their idea of a Messiah is likely the popular one of that time: a great leader who will bring back the glory days of Israel and drive out the occupying Romans. Instead, Jesus tells them the Son of Man will be rejected by the powerful. He will suffer and be killed and rise after three days.
So Peter speaks up again. This time he actually has the audacity to rebuke Jesus. This talk of suffering is definitely not what he or the others want to hear. Jesus knows that Peter is not just being ignorant. He is really telling Him not to do the very thing the Father sent Him into the world to accomplish. No wonder Jesus calls him “Satan!” Christ explains that Peter sees things with human eyes, but God looks at them very differently. “Whoever wishes to come after Me must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow Me. For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake and that of the gospel will save it” (Mark 8:34-35). It may be easier for us to understand what Jesus in teaching them with the benefit of two thousand years to learn what our Lord is truly doing and who He really is. Yet that does not mean that we speak or act any less foolishly than Peter. We may not want to pick up our cross and follow Jesus, but as Christians, that is exactly what we must do.
Suggested missionary action: We can better understand what Christ asks of us by reading Scriptures, especially the Gospels. We can also use other forms of spiritual literature to learn more about our faith.