A REFLECTION: 24th Sunday In Ordinary Time (B)
16th September 2018
by Rev. Fr. Allen Baclor Abadines
GOSPEL: MARK 8:27-35
Jesus went on with his disciples to the villages of Caesarea Philippi; and on the way, he asked his disciples, “Who do people say that I am?” And they answered him, John the Baptist; and others, Elijah; and still others, one of the prophets.” He asked them, “But who do you say that I am?” Peter answered him, “You are the Messiah.” And he sternly ordered them not to tell anyone about him. Then he began to teach them that the Son of Man must undergo great suffering, and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests, and the scribes, and be killed, and after three days rise again. He said all this quite openly.
And Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. But turning and looking at his disciples, he rebuked Peter and said, “Get behind me, Satan! For you are setting your mind not on divine things but on human things.” He called the crowd with his disciples, and said to them, “If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake, and for the sake of the gospel, will save it.
The Gospel of the Lord/ Praise to you, Lord Jesus Christ.
The Gospel of this Sunday centers on the identity of Jesus. The Gospel text relates to us an encounter of Jesus with his disciples at Caesarea Philippi. On the way to a village called Caesarea Philippi, Jesus asked this question, “Who do people say I am?” And they responded some say John the Baptist, others, Elijah, still others one of the prophets. ” Caesarea Philippi, by the way, is a village which actually became the center of worship of false gods for thousand years, hence, this may inspire Jesus to ask his Disciples such question. He wanted to know how people regarded him. They were so wrong to think that Jesus was John the Baptist, or Elijah or one of the prophets. Jesus was of course not satisfied with the response he got, but that was to be expected. People really did not know him that well. They must have heard very little of him, except for the fact that they were amazed at his teachings as well as the so many miracles he performed. But what is of a more important and more relevant to Jesus is the understanding of his disciples. For quite a while, they had been with Jesus. They have heard Jesus’ teachings. They were first-hand witnesses to the so many wonderful works of Jesus. They were witnesses to how Jesus lived, they experienced Jesus’ spirituality. And so turning to his disciples he directed the crucial question, “But how about you…who do you say that I am?”. Jesus’ question offers them an opportunity to clarify in their hearts how well do they know the Lord. That question has become life’s ultimate question, for I believe, it was not only directed to the disciples but it is the same question that is being asked of us. “Who do you say that I am?” How are we gonna respond? How well do we really know Jesus? Well, it may be easy for us to respond now based on what we’ve learned from our Catechesis.But Jesus wants a personal, honest response. Knowing Jesus is different from knowing something about Jesus. In the Gospel, Peter replied, “You are the Messiah” Peter must be very proud of his answer. He got it right! But not so fast! For when Jesus began to explain to them that the ‘Son of man would have to suffer many things and be rejected by the elders and by the chief priests and the scribes, and be killed, and after three days rise again,’ it was way beyond them. They cannot comprehend a suffering Messiah. Peter must have answered correctly – Jesus is the anointed one, the promised Messiah, but Messiah in his mind is a someone who would rescue Israel from the Romans. But Jesus’ mission is more than saving Israel. His mission is to save mankind from sin, to assure man of eternal life, to teach us how to live and to reveal to us God’s love. God’s love is a mystery. It is indeed a mystery why in the very first place he willed that his only begotten Son, must suffer persecution and death. If the disciples will not be able to accept the suffering Messiah, then it will not be possible also to accept their own suffering for Jesus’ sake. This is the same reason why there are people who lose sight of a loving God whenever they experience suffering in their lives. In the midst of trials, pains and hardships they eventually lose their faith in God. People are most especially tempted to doubt God’s fidelity when they experience setbacks in their lives. This is why getting to know Jesus deeply is indeed important. Let me elaborate this point by telling you a story:
A Father’s Protection (Author Unknown)
A father takes his son into the forest, blindfolds him and leaves him alone. He is required to sit on a stump the whole night and not remove the blindfold until the rays of the morning sun shine through it. He cannot cry out for help to anyone. Once he survives the night, he is a MAN. He cannot tell the other boys of this experience, because each lad must come into manhood on his own. The boy is naturally terrified. He can hear all kinds of noises. Wild beasts must surely be all around him. Maybe even some human might do him harm. The wind blew the grass and earth and shook his stump, but he sat stoically, never removing the blindfold. It would be the only way he could become a man! Finally, after a horrific night, the sun appeared and he removed his blindfold. It was then that he discovered his father sitting on the stump next to him. He had been at watch the entire night, protecting his son from harm. We, too, are never alone. Even when we don’t know it, God is watching over us, Sitting on the stump beside us. When trouble comes, all we have to do is reach out to Him. Moral of the story: Just because you can’t see God, Doesn’t mean He is not there. “For we walk by faith, not by sight!!!
We come to know the love of God through our experience of the love of Jesus. Getting to know Jesus deeply, therefore, is to get to know God deeply in our lives. How would this be possible? It is by heeding his invitation “to come and follow me!” We come to know him personally only in living the lives he lived. To know Jesus is to walk with him. Following him is to imitate Jesus’ ways – his service, his sacrifice, his suffering, and his love.