Reflection: Twelfth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Chinese Mass:Every Sunday 2:15 p.m

Our Lady of the Assumption RC Church, Assumption Priory, Victoria Park Square, Bethnal Green E2 9PB (map)

Mass is conducted in a mix of Cantonese and Mandarin

After Mass you are welcome to join the community for a tea gathering

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[1st Reading – Zech.12:10-11,13:1; Ps.62; 2nd Reading – Gal.3:26-29; Gospel – Lk.9:18-24]

It has often been said that knowing what others think about us can lead us to better understand and to create a relationship with others.  This theory works well and good with us (mortal human beings) but it was surely not the case with Jesus.  Jesus never had any problem relating to others. Besides, Jesus already knew everything!  His question about what ‘the crowds’ and ‘the disciples’ themselves thought about him and who and what he was, was important for him because he could understand what they learned from his teaching. As a good Master and Teacher he could then make use of his teaching skills and build on what they have learned and understood.

The first thing we are told in today’s gospel is that ‘Jesus was praying alone’ and the gospel writer continues, ‘in the presence of his disciples’!  Jesus prays quite often, usually from a solitary place.  Yet, in today’s gospel, we are told that Jesus was ‘praying alone in the presence of his disciples’.  Furthermore, he asked his disciples the questions while ‘he was praying alone’.  Thus the whole context of the questions that Jesus asked his disciples, is within the context of prayer.  Jesus asked the questions when he was praying (and therefore in communion with the Father).  Thus, it was not out of mere curiosity, but something more profound.

In the gospels, especially when Jesus performed an extraordinary miracle, he was often acclaimed as ‘a prophet’.  Sometimes he was referred to in the same level as other ‘ancient prophets’ like Elijah, as well as some relatively recent prophet like the late John the Baptist … ‘coming back to life’.  Therefore when Jesus (during prayer and in union with God) asked this question about who the others said he was … he understood that the people, inspired by God himself, knew that there was something extraordinary about him … and since they were inspired by God, they also proclaimed the ‘resurrection’ saying that he is someone who ‘came back to life’.  But Jesus wanted to delve more deeply into what his own intimate disciples learned about him and about who he was.  Thus when Jesus (again in union with God) asked his disciples about who they themselves said he was … he understood, through Peter, that his disciples (also inspired by God) knew him as ‘The Christ of God’, the anointed one … which is much more than ‘a prophet’!  Once they proclaimed him so, Jesus ‘gave them strict orders not to tell anyone anything about this’ because he knew that no one would understand this, unless one was an ‘intimate disciple of Jesus’ and ‘inspired by God’.  We know that they spoke about these things later, when filled with the Holy Spirit!

Yet, at this particular moment, when his disciples were still being ‘inspired by God’, and still seeing him as ‘The Christ of God’, Jesus spoke to them about his suffering – the death and the resurrection of the ‘Son of Man’ – echoing what was written in the Old Testament about him!  After that, he addressed ‘all’ of them and asked them to ‘follow’ him, with all the consequences that this brings with it.  This is how one can recognise Jesus for who he truly is and become his disciple!

Jesus is asking us the same question: ‘You, who do you say I am?’  What is our answer?  Is it going to be about what others have said, or are we going to give our own answer?  Are we letting God inspire us in such a way that we can recognise Jesus in our own life?

“Lord, when you asked your disciples about the people’s as well as their own thoughts about you, you were guided by the Father, as was Peter when he replied that you are the Christ of God.  Give us the same wisdom to let the Father inspire us and guide us to recognise you in us and to respond to your enquiry with the same courage as Peter.  Thank you Lord!”

Fr. Jesmond Pawley, OFM Conv.

(Permission to reproduce on this site by Fr. Jesmond, St. Patrick’s RC Church, Waterloo http://www.stpatrickwaterloo.org.uk/ )

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