Gospel Reflection: Twenty- Fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Malvern Minute

 

TWENTY- FOURTH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME

SEPTEMBER 13, 2015

Alleluia, Alleluia.

May I never boast except in the cross of our Lord

through which the world has been crucified to me and I to the world.

Alleluia, Alleluia.

The Gospel of Saint Mark 8: 27-35

Jesus and his disciples set out for the villages of Caesarea Philippi.  Along the way he asked his disciples, “Who do people say that I am?” They said in reply, “John the Baptist, others Elijah, still others one of the prophets.”


And he asked them, “But who do you say that I am?”  Peter said to him in reply: “You are the Christ.” Then he warned them not to tell anyone about him.

He began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer greatly and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests, and the scribes, and be killed, and rise after three days.  He spoke this openly.


Then Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him.  At this he turned around and, looking at his disciples, rebuked Peter and said, “Get behind me, Satan.  You are thinking not as God does, but as human beings do.

He summoned the crowd with his disciples and said to them, “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.”

The Gospel of the Lord

 

REFLECTION

The Gospel this morning moves us geographically from the district of the Decapolis (last Sunday’s Gospel) to the villages of Caesarea Philippi.  In many ways this site provides the perfect setting for the intense questions concerning the true identity of Jesus and the true identity of a disciple.  Before receiving its name in honor of the emperor, Caesarea Philippi was known as Panias, so named in honor of the Greek god Pan who was worshiped there.  In addition, the area is the source of one of the largest springs that form the Jordan River.  Consequently, the area provides lush vegetation and was respected as a true source of life.

 

At this place where false gods were worshipped and the Jordan Valley receives its sustaining water, Jesus, the True God and the Life-Giving Water of God asks the question: Who do people say that I am?

 

The disciples go through a litany of answers all of which center on the prophetic image that Jesus is exhibiting.   John the Baptist was their most recent experience of a bold and truth-filled prophet, and Elijah was seen as the greatest of prophets since the time of Moses.  Truly, the people seem to appreciate and respect the greatness of Jesus.  But, merely articulating what others believe is not Faith!  Biblical faith is always personal, belief that is rooted in the depths of a person’s heart.  Faith is the driving force for one’s life – faith defines all reality and becomes the mode of one’s day in and day out living!

 

Therefore, we all know what the second question must be: But who do you say that I am?  On hearing this question from Jesus we know that it is directed not just to those disciples, but to each and every one of us — who do you say that I am?

 

Impetuous Peter jumps forward and gives an answer.  Yes, Jesus is the Messiah, but it becomes dramatically clear that what Peter means by that title and what God means are two very different realities.  Jesus, the Christ is the servant of God who must suffer and die, and is not the agent of political and economic power.  Jesus accuses Peter of being the ally of Satan – thinking humanly and not with the mind of God and His Christ.  Oh how the human community, even to this day continues to fashion God according to its own ideas and desires.  It is so challenging to believe in the true God who gave His life so others could live.  It is so hard to be a disciple who sacrifices himself for his neighbor, friend and foe alike.

 

Who I say God is, and who God wants me to be, are the radical questions being asked of us today!  True God versus false god; True Messiah versus false messiah; True Disciple versus false disciple are the choices with which we are confronted.

The answers of Jesus Christ are:

The Son of Man must suffer greatly; and

Whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me.

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 website for details: MalvernRetreat.com

 

 

 

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