Theme: JESUS IS NOT A POLITICAL, NATIONALISTIC AND MILITARY MESSIAH, BUT JESUS IS A SUFFERING MESSIAH
- Isaiah 50:5-9;
- Psalm 114 (115):1-6. 8-9. R/ v. 9;
- James 2:14-18
- Mark 8:27-35
Today is the 24th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Liturgical Year B. The gospel today tells us that Jesus is not a political, nationalistic, and military Messiah, but Jesus is a suffering Messiah! That is, Jesus is to suffer, die and rise from the dead for the love of God and for the love of humanity, that is, to do the will of God his Father and to save humanity from sin and death!
The gospel also tells us that as Christians we are to take up our crosses and follow Jesus, to lose our lives for his sake and for the sake of the gospel in order to save our lives and the lives of the whole world!
The gospel today tells us that when Peter professed his faith in Jesus as the Messiah/Christ, Jesus warned his disciples not to tell anyone about it for fear that people may think that he was a political Messiah.
Jesus also told his disciples that he was to suffer, to die and to rise from the dead on the third day! And when Peter protested, he called Peter Satan! For the way Peter thought was man’s way, not God’s way. Man thought of a nationalistic Messiah, but God thought of a suffering Messiah, because God is love!
In the gospel today, Jesus also told the people and his disciples to take up their crosses and follow him, to lose their lives for his sake and for the sake of the gospel in order to save their lives and the lives of the whole world!
The first reading follows the theme of the gospel. The first reading tells us that Jesus was the Suffering Servant of God (Third of Four Suffering Servant Songs). He listened to God. He did not turn away from God. He offered his back to be beaten, his beard to be torn and his face to be spat upon!
Vicarious suffering, that is, suffering on behalf of sinners, suffering in the place of sinners! But more importantly, the first reading tells us that God will not abandon him, God will not forget him; but God will come to his help, God will save him, and through him God will save the whole world!
The responsorial psalm follows the theme of the first reading. The responsorial psalm tells us that God will save him from death! Thus the response:
“I will walk in the presence of the Lord, in the land of the living.” (Ps 114 (115): 9; SM)
The responsorial psalm itself tells us of his suffering and death, but more importantly, it tells us that God will save him from death. Thus the responsorial psalm ends with verse 9, from which the response is taken, again:
“I will walk in the presence of the Lord, in the land of the living.”!
The second reading does not follow the theme of the Sunday, but again, the second reading has something important to tell us. The second reading tells us that faith and good works have to go together. Faith without good works is dead! And the good works mentioned in the second reading are clothing the naked and feeding the hungry. Two basic human needs!
The second reading is not contrasting faith and good works, but the second reading is contrasting living faith and dead faith! Living faith will produce good works, but dead faith will not produce good works!
Today in this Mass, we thank God our Father for his Son Jesus Christ, who suffered, died and rose from the dead for our salvation; and we ask God to give us the Holy Spirit, so that we may carry our crosses to follow him, to lose our lives for his sake and for the sake of the gospel, so that we will save our lives and the lives of the whole world!
We also thank God for the gift of faith and we ask God to help us to do good works!
A happy and blessed Sunday to all of you!
Parish Priest of St Mary, Tawau, Sabah East Malaysia.