Sunday, September 16
Twenty-fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time
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.”
“You are the Christ.” In today’s Gospel, Peter makes this powerful declaration of faith when Jesus asks his disciples, “Who do you say that I am.” While Peter gets the answer right, he still didn’t totally understand Jesus. Jesus began to explain the true meaning of being God’s anointed one: that He would suffer greatly, be put to death on a cross, but would rise again. Peter could not comprehend a suffering Messiah and he rebuked Jesus for teaching them this. However, Jesus came right back at him and said, “Get behind me, Satan! You are thinking not as God does, but as human beings do.”
Peter was allowing Satan to cloud his understanding and impede God’s will. So, not only would the Son of Man suffer and die, but those who wanted to follow Jesus, truly follow Him, they too must suffer and die. This is not exactly an easy plan or the best recruitment slogan to be a disciple of Jesus. Any of us who wish to follow Jesus must take up the cross and share in Jesus’ struggles and sufferings.
Jesus made it clear from the very beginning that it wasn’t going to be easy to be a disciple. To be a true follower of Christ means we need to change our entire lifestyle. It means that we need to change the way we act, think, and speak. In order to be a follower of Jesus we need to change our entire life, dying to who we used to be, and becoming a new person. So, is your heart ready for this kind of commitment? Are you ready to give it your all? Jesus tells us the reward will be great… for “whoever loses his life for my sake and that of the gospel will save it.”
Deacon Paul Zemanek