13th September – 24th Sunday in Ordinary Time (B)

GOSPEL                                Mark 8:27 -35
You are the Christ. The Son of Man is destined to suffer grievously

St Peter's confession of Faith

Jesus and his disciples left for the villages round Caesarea Philippi. On the way he put this question to his disciples, ‘Who do people say I am?’ And they told him. ‘John the Baptist,’ they said ‘others Elijah; others again, one of the prophets.’ ‘But you,’ he asked ‘who do you say I am?’ Peter spoke up and said to him, ‘You are the Christ.’ And he gave them strict orders not to tell anyone about him.

And he began to teach them that the Son of Man was destined to suffer grievously, to be rejected by the elders and the chief priests and the scribes, and to be put to death, and after three days to rise again; and he said all this quite openly. Then, taking him aside, Peter started to remonstrate with him. But, turning and seeing his disciples, he rebuked Peter and said to him, ‘Get behind me, Satan! Because the way you think is not God’s way but man’s.’

He called the people and his disciples to him and said, ‘If anyone wants to be a follower of mine, let him renounce himself and take up his cross and follow me. For anyone who wants to save his life will lose it; but anyone who loses his life for my sake, and for the sake of the gospel, will save it.

This is a Bible Alive reflection that I also put in the parish newsletter.

At a crucial point in Mark’s Gospel Jesus asked a crucial question of his disciples: ‘But who do you say that I am?’ Up to this moment, through his miracles and healings, Jesus had been revealing himself to them as the Son of God and, through the revelation given him by the Holy Spirit, Peter finally understood and declared: ‘You are the Christ’ (v. 29). The end of the first stage of revelation had been reached: Jesus was revealed as the Christ, the Son of the eternal Father. From now on the disciples could no longer live their lives apart from Jesus. They knew they had to follow him in obedience, for he was their Lord.

Jesus, however, immediately began to lead them into a second, more profound understanding of his own person by teaching that he had to suffer, die and be raised up out of death. His way was to be a way of suffering, humiliation and death, not the way of a powerful, glorious Messiah [Saviour]. The disciples had to begin the journey into a new depth of understanding. Scandalized, Peter remonstrated with Jesus, seeking to protect him. Jesus rebuked Peter, insisting that he had to suffer, die and rise again.

Through faith Jesus has been revealed to us as the Son of God, the world’s Saviour and creation’s Lord. Since Jesus is God we can never fully plumb the depths of who he is. We can spend our lives asking the Spirit to deepen our understanding. Yet this is only the first stage of revelation. Like the disciples we must go on to the second level.

Since through our baptism we are joined to the person of Christ, we are called to follow him. We must grasp that, as Jesus had to suffer, die and rise again, we too shall have to follow him on the same path and live as he lived. What does this mean? We are to live for Christ and not live for ourselves. He must be at the centre of our lives, not we ourselves. We must submit ourselves to the Father’s will, just as Jesus submitted himself. All our choices have to be subject to these benchmark questions: ‘Does the Father want this for me? Does this please the Father?’ This is at the heart of denying to self.

Father, by your Spirit teach me the way of the Cross. By your Spirit help me to live as Jesus lived.