Reflection: Twenty-Fourth Sunday of 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)

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

Bible study/sharing every Saturday (2:00-4:00 p.m.) at Notre Dame De France Church, 5 Leicester Place WC2H 7BX (near See Woo Chinese Supermarket, Leicester Square tube station)

Talk and discussion meeting First Monday of every month (4:00-6:00 p.m.) at Notre Dame De France Church

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[1st Reading – Is.50:5-9; Ps.114; 2nd Reading – Jm.2:14-18; Gospel – Mk.8:27-35]

It was difficult for Peter to accept that Jesus had to pass through all the suffering and be put to death. But above all, it was more difficult, and almost on the borderline of impossibility for him to understand, let alone accept, the fact that after three days He was to rise again.

Today’s Gospel dynamic is made up of three parts. We have the first part where Jesus enquires to see if his disciples are understanding who he really is – God. We have the answers of what others say about him and what the disciples themselves think about him. It seems clear that the most intimate ones have some knowledge about his divinity. In fact he gives them strict orders not to tell anyone about him because no one would not understand!

The second part is about a further step in Jesus’ teaching to his disciples. Since they accepted him as the Christ, he thought of telling them what type of “Christ” he would be: the suffering servant that the Old Testament talked about. And although this seemed to be easier to be understood, it was the stumbling block that merited Peter to be called Satan, because he was thinking not in God’s way but man’s. This gave rise to the third dynamic of the gospel.

Jesus calls everyone and continues his teaching. If anyone wants to follow Him, he has to be ready to do what Jesus himself did, be ready to do the Father’s will. This means that one must be ready to “renounce” himself and therefore not think as men think but think in God’s way. This might mean that one will pass through suffering, rejection and death. But he who puts his life into the hands of God, he will also have the resurrection experience. This is what the words of Jesus about saving and losing a life for his sake mean.

Are we ready to save our life “in God’s way”? Jesus said that if we want to follow him, we must renounce ourselves, take up our cross and follow him. Does this mean that we have to suffer as Jesus did? Do we have a despotic and sadistic God who loves to see us suffer as he did with his own Son? The answer is a definite “No”. Jesus’ suffering is the consequence of human hatred. When God sent Jesus into the world he wanted him to have all the possible experiences of each and every human being. In one way or another every single person who was, is and will be, can say that he/she too, in one way or another, passes through some of the same experiences as Jesus. Jesus, who is to be a model for everyone, had the experience of both extremes that no other human being can arrive to – He passed from Divinity to the farthest extreme of humanity, to return back to Divinity. All this to do God’s will – with all its consequences – that is suffering, death AND resurrection.

Lord, You said that if we want to follow you we have to take up our cross! Lord, the cross is too frightening. It is hard to accept it, especially if we know that there might be any suffering with it. Give us your help to accept it and through it, to look to the resurrection that follows. 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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