Jesus puts to his closest disciples a crucial question, “Who do people say that I am?” and then another even more to the point, “Who do you say that I am?”
These questions are at the very heart of the Gospel. If you take Gospels as a whole they give an account of the life of Jesus and explain his message; but having read and understood all this material about Jesus the question still hangs in the air, “Who do you say that I am?”
It is a question for Peter, a question for the disciples and it is a question for each one of us.
Of course, Peter gives absolutely the right answer, “You are the Messiah.” In St Matthew’s account Jesus goes on to tell Peter that he is a happy man because this was revealed to him by the Father and then continues with the familiar passage about Peter being the rock on which Christ will build his Church.
This extra bit is not in either Mark’s or Luke’s account. In fact each of the Evangelists treats this particular exchange between Jesus and Peter in their own way and put it in different contexts.
This is not something that should surprise us since we know that the Gospel writers were working quite a number of years after the events they are recording and were faced with a vast mass of material. They each tried to put the accounts handed down to them in a logical sequence so that it would be intelligible to their readers, hence the discrepancies between the different Gospels.
Here Mark does not record Jesus making any remark about the truth of Peter’s statement of faith or the great blessing that this was for him.
One explanation for this lack is that it is thought that one of the main sources for Mark’s Gospel was actually the preaching of Peter himself. If this is so, and Mark is more or less presenting what Peter said, then it is not surprising that he does not make a big thing of his profession of faith.
One can imagine that Peter in relating what happened on that day wants to emphasize what Jesus said and did that was most significant and so omits any praise he was given, as if not wanting to draw attention to himself.
This statement of faith by Peter is actually followed in Mark’s Gospel, as we can see, by a rather dramatic prediction by Christ of his Passion. This is the first time he makes this prediction and it is all the more significant for that. It is followed by two other predictions which come in chapters nine and ten.
Here in chapter eight Peter takes Jesus aside and remonstrates with him. This prediction of the Passion is quite incomprehensible to Peter and he cannot believe that anything like this could actually happen, but Jesus reproves him in the most severe terms.
Then in the line about taking up one’s Cross and following him Jesus tells the disciples that death on the Cross or something very similar is not just going to be for him but for most of them as well.
All in all this is a very salutary passage from the Gospel. Although not just salutary but significant as well since it contains the first unambiguous statement about Jesus being the long foretold Messiah and the first prediction of his Passion and Death.
So what are we expected to take from this text? Well, the warning that each of us will face the Cross is crucial. We might not face the exact same circumstances as Christ but we know we are all going to face suffering and death.
The thing we should realize though is that embracing Christ as our Savior will mean that the suffering we will face in life will be redemptive; it will be one of the things which will help to bring us to eternal life. We should accept this as good news since it will benefit our eternal salvation.
The traditional Catholic interpretation gives a very wide understanding to the Cross. Yes, it includes all the suffering and agony that is a natural part of life especially as we experience sickness and aging, but it includes many other things including all the irritations and problems that we will have to deal with in life.
Catholics regard all these things as being part of the Cross and realize that by consciously uniting them with the sufferings of Christ all of them can become redemptive.
I am not saying that we should go out and seek suffering or bear pain when there are obvious ways of relieving it.
What I mean is that where we come up against unavoidable suffering then the best thing to do is to embrace it and to unite it with what Christ suffered on the Cross of Calvary. In this way it will rebound to our everlasting benefit and will actually help to build up the world.
The same goes for the shortfalls and annoyances of others that we often have to experience. Sometimes the people closest to us have extremely irritating habits or do things that cause us aggravation or infuriation. These too can be offered up and so benefit us in eternal terms.
By dealing with annoyances and the faults of others, and indeed our own faults, in this way we inevitably become more patient and tolerant human beings and this is something that brings a blessing on us and on everyone we live with.
I think one of the most important lines in this particular text is where Jesus says to Peter, “The way you think is not God’s way but man’s.”
I think that our biggest problem in dealing with our faith is to move from thinking in man’s way to thinking in God’s way. We are all too often preoccupied with ourselves, with our own interests and concerns. We find ourselves drawn to material solutions to our problems: if only I had more money, or buying this or that new thing will make me happier, or I’d like to get my own way at work or in the home.
God sees things completely differently; his perspective is that of eternity. And this is the perspective we need to adopt.
We need to look at our sufferings, our irritations and indeed our desires through the perspective of eternity. When we do this we see that our greatest concerns fade away and other values seem more important: values such as patience, endurance, hope, love and trust.
It is these things that will bring us joy; it is these things that will lead us to life eternal.http://www.catholicwealdstone.org/wordpress/?p=2245
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September 13, 2015
Twenty-fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time: Which Peter Are We?
This Sunday’s Gospel reading is familiar, but it seems to be missing some verses. We hear Jesus asking his disciple: “Who do people say I am.” We hear Peter’s answer, “You are the Christ,” but then Jesus moves on to speak about how he would suffer greatly. We are missing something. Actually, we are missing a lot. There are no references to Jesus changing Simon’s name to Peter, no references to Peter being the rock on which the Church will be built, no references to Peter being entrusted with the Keys of the Kingdom. All this is found in the Gospel of Matthew, but today’s reading is from the Gospel of Mark. Mark’s gospel emphasizes the demands of Christianity. For example, where in the Gospel of Matthew Jesus says, “Anyone who loses his life for my sake will find it.” Mark expands this to “Anyone who loses his life for my sake and the sake of the gospel will save it.” The good news of Jesus Christ demands sacrifice, even the sacrifice of our lives.
Twenty-fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time, Classic
Mark 8: 27–35
Today’s gospel passage gives us an account of the most critical turning-point in the public ministry of Jesus. The stage is set by the seemingly innocent questions of Jesus about his identity. Peter speaks for all the disciples when he declares confidently, “You are the Messiah.” In view of the miracles of Jesus in Galilee that would seem to be an obvious conclusion.
Jesus, however, is deeply disturbed by this answer and the reason is immediately revealed: “He began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer greatly…” The clear implication is that he is not a Messiah in the political sense that the disciples understood. He is not interested in leading them into a war of liberation from the Romans, but hopes instead to liberate them in a far more radical way from the bondage of sin and death.
Twenty-fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year B—September 13, 2015
The disciples tell Jesus that people don’t know His true identity, but Peter, who did, was told not to tell them. Why?
Gospel (Read Mk 8:27-35)
St. Mark describes a conversation Jesus had with the disciples about His identity. He asked about the buzz on the street: “Who do people say that I am?” The answers were all wrong. Pressing the point, He asked them, “But who do you say that I am?” Peter got it right: “You are the Christ.” One might think Jesus would be eager to get the misperceptions cleared up. Why not commission Peter, on the spot, to go out and spread the good news? Instead, “He warned them not to tell anyone about Him.” Curious.