September 16, 2018: Twenty-fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Reading: 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 themselves.”
The apostles were caught off guard by Jesus’ question, “who do you say that I am?” and the words that followed. They knew Jesus was the Messiah. By following him they were followers of the one who did miraculous things wherever he went. He was their Savior, who would lead them from the pain and oppression that their people had known. Identification with Jesus seemed ideal. By being identified with him, they would share in his glory. Peter and the disciples were not ready to hear the rest of the story — that of Jesus’ teaching on suffering. Jesus continued to explain that they will not be able to have everything their way. They will have to give up many things, they will know suffering. They will need to take up their cross and follow him. How hard this must have been for the apostles to understand. Jesus was speaking about the pain of dying to yourself. It is a daily challenge for all of us, to embrace the paschal mystery.
Reflect on Jesus’ message of dying to one’s self. What does that mean for you?