There are times in our lives when we get things wrong, perhaps we have hurt someone very close to us and no matter what we say, the other person finds it difficult to accept our apology or to accept that we will change our ways. They are looking for a sign that we really mean it and the phrase “actions speak louder than words” comes to mind. This is exactly the same with our faith.
In the part of the letter from St James that we hear this Sunday, the emphasis is on putting our faith into action; like my reflection from last week, when I shared that I walked past several people begging. How can I say I am a man of faith if I do not offer to help or even stop to chat with these people, acknowledging them as being human: in fact, my brothers and sisters? On that occasion I failed to put my faith into action.
This week’s first reading has Isaiah, demonstrating his complete trust in God and his reliance on God despite what must have been crushing criticism from those around him; as well as physical harm and violence. Isaiah’s faith was rewarded with great courage and resilience.
In the Gospel this week, Jesus is on his way to Jerusalem, and He knows what he must do. In a way, Jesus is checking how His teaching has affected the apostles, so he asks them “who do (other) people say I am?” Jesus hears the predictable replies, ‘some say John the Baptist, or Elijah or one of the other prophets’; Jesus then asks the apostles – “But you, who do you say that I am?” Peter said that Jesus is the Christ. In Mark’s Gospel there is no statement here about Peter being given Divine inspiration or being told he is the rock. In Mark’s Gospel they are told to keep this to themselves.
If we listen carefully to the language used here, we can hear that the initial question is asking what they have heard others say, the second question is asking ‘who do you say that I am?’ We could study every piece ever written about Jesus and find out what other people have to say about Jesus, but at the end of the day Jesus still comes back and asks us “Who do you say that I am?”
This is a very personal question and requires a very personal and honest response. A response that if we are really looking to follow Jesus, will require us to enter into a truly personal relationship with Him. Peter was only able to recognise Jesus as the Christ because he got to know Jesus up close and personal, that relationship allowed the Holy Spirit to inspire Peter, to give him wisdom, courage and the leadership skills which would be essential after Jesus ascended to His Father.
Jesus is calling on us to follow him. He goes on to tell the apostles that he is destined to suffer, die and rise again, something, which at the time was too much for Peter to accept. Peter, who had just recognised Jesus as the Christ was immediately rebuked. The apostles’ understanding at that time would have been that the Christ would be a mighty king who would elevate Israel above all other nations. Jesus was teaching them that God had a different idea of the Christ and that God’s way was for the Christ to conquer something that no man could ever do. Jesus’ victory is over death. Death has no power over Jesus. Jesus fulfilled His destiny and calls on us to fulfil ours. Jesus obeyed the will of His Father and calls upon us to follow Him.
When Jesus asks us, “who do you say that I am?” How do we respond?
My response is that I believe Jesus is Our Saviour, the Son of God and to commit to trying harder to see those in need in front of me. To try not to repeat the mistakes I have made; to learn from them and to try to serve God and God’s people with love, in charity and in prayer.
Jesus said, “If anyone wants to be a follower of mine, let him renounce himself and take up his cross and follow me.”
We all have different crosses to bear in this world; we are all called to bear those crosses and to help those around us who are struggling. We can all be Simon of Cyrene to someone else, just like we all may need someone else to help us at some stage too. Being a Christian doesn’t mean trying to carry our cross alone, sometimes we need to be gracious enough to accept help, just like Jesus accepted the help of Simon (on the road to the crucifixion) to fulfil his destiny.
Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC)1
CCC 713-716: the path of the Messiah traced out in the “Servant Songs”
CCC 440, 571-572, 601: Jesus suffered and died for our salvation
CCC 618: our participation in Christ’s sacrifice
CCC 2044-2046: good works manifest faith
Please keep in your prayers
- The people of Afghanistan, Haiti and other crisis areas of the world, that they receive the help they need.
- God’s creation, that mankind will become better stewards of this world which has been entrusted to us by God
- Those who are sick, those who are dying, the recently deceased and those who mourn.
- Those preparing to return to Mass.
- The Year of the Eucharist, which has now started, that this will lead to a fresh outpouring of love by the people of God for the Body and Blood of Christ.
- All the clergy and parishes affected by the clergy moves.
- The Altar Servers training day, which takes place on Saturday (11th)
- The Baptism Preparation Programme starting this Sunday (12th) and all of the families attending.
- The Metanoia programme, which starts on Monday (13th), for a Spirit led programme and all those attending.
- The RCIA programme, which meets on Wednesday (15th), for those thinking about attending that they will take the first steps to learning more about Jesus through this programme.