Gospel Reflection: Twelfth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Malvern Minute

 

TWELFTH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME

JUNE 19, 2016

Alleluia, Alleluia.

My sheep hear my voice, says the Lord;

I know them, and they follow me.

Alleluia, Alleluia.

 

The Gospel according to Saint Luke 9: 18-24

Once when Jesus was praying by himself, and the disciples were with him, he asked them, “Who do the crowds say that I am?

They said in reply, “John the Baptist; others, Elijah; still others, ‘One of the ancient prophets has arisen.’”

Then he said to them, “But who do you say that I am?”  Peter said in reply, “The Christ of God.”  He scolded them and directed them not to tell this to anyone.

He said, “The Son of Man must suffer greatly and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests, and the scribes, and be killed and on the third day be raised.”

Then he said to all, “If anyone wishes to come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.  For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it.

The Gospel of the Lord

 

REFLECTION

For the last three weeks, Saint Luke has been preparing us for this Sunday’s Gospel and its probing questions.   Three weeks ago, we heard that Jesus healed a man near death; in the following Sunday’s Gospel we saw Jesus revive a dead man; and last week we witnessed Jesus forgiving sins.  Confused, the people gathered at the Pharisee’s house asked: Who is this who even forgives sins?” 

Now Jesus himself asks the question that is on everyone’s mind: But who do you say that I am?  In the context of the story, this question is directed to the disciples, but in the Gospel that is proclaimed for all ages, the question is directed to us: who do you say that I am?

In the Gospels of Mark and Matthew, we are told that this significant questioning of the disciples took place in the region of Caesarea Philippi, the source of the Jordan River, the life giving water of the people of Palestine.   In this morning’s Gospel, Jesus, the origin of Eternal Life-Giving Water, asks the question as a result of praying: when Jesus was praying by himself, and the disciples were with him.

Saint Luke stresses that Jesus prays often, and especially, Jesus prays before every decisive moment in His life.  Led by the Spirit (Luke 4: 1-2), Jesus entered the desert for forty days of prayer in preparation for His active ministry.  Now, in anticipation of His approaching Death and Resurrection He prepares Himself again by prayer, and as a result of prayerful reflection, Jesus addresses this question to His disciples: who do you say that I am?  Jesus raised the question so that He could dispel the false understanding of His identity.  Jesus is not a political Messiah; He is not a Christ for this world who will establish the Kingdom of God by force.

It is imperative that disciples of every age understand God’s wisdom that dictates that true victory over evil and death comes by way of self sacrificing love — he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.  Disciples can easily fall victim to the ways of the world, and believe that force and power can bring about liberation, freedom and peace, but the True Christ does not believe this.

Rooted in prayer and the will of the Father, Jesus understands clearly who He is and what His mission is.  As took place in the garden on the night before He died, the truly human Jesus struggled with the fear that comes with self sacrifice, but it was the Divine Will that He embraced and not His own: The Son of Man must suffer greatly and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests, and the scribes, and be killed.   It is in surrendering His life in confidence to the Father, that on the third day (He will) be raised.

Once again, the Gospel reveals that our identity is intimately connected to the identity of Christ.  The way of the Master must be the way of the disciple: If anyone wishes to come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.

This struggle between self and selflessness revealed by Jesus is the reality of the disciple.  St. Paul expresses this as a war that plays out within us and in our world on a daily basis.  Selfishness and violence is all around us.  We truly struggle with deciding how we are to respond – how we are to assist God in establishing the Kingdom of God.

Who do we say Jesus is?  Who do we say we are? Do we believe: whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it.

WE BELIEVE, AND THEREFORE SPEAK (2 Corinthians 4:13)

Consider joining the Men and Women of Malvern by deepening your personal relationship with Jesus and your commitment as a disciple through a weekend retreat.  See our Web Site for details: MalvernRetreat.com

 

 

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