Twenty-fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time, September 12
Our Faith in Jesus Christ Is Not Only Expressed in Words, But Also in How We Live Our Lives Each and Every Hour of the Day, Each and Every Day of the Year.
We hear our Lord asking a question in today’s Gospel, which actually strikes at the very heart of the faith which you and I profess that we believe, the faith which you and I practice as a community of believers, “But who do you say that I am?”
Did you ever notice how we seem to be inundated with opinion polls just before national, state or local elections? It seems that someone is always asking someone else about what they think, or what their opinions might be on a particular subject.
And then, the results of the polls are published, and analysts then begin to offer their interpretations and formulate predictions as to what they consider to be possible election results, all to the consternation and dismay of the candidate who happens to have a lower standing in a polled system, a system which is, oftentimes, very flawed.
And when we look at Jesus’ original question in today’s Gospel, “Who do people say that I am?” – the response which the disciples gave were answers which were also flawed, in the sense that the people truly did not yet fully grasp the reality of Divine Truth who stood before them.
And then, Jesus asks the pivotal question which becomes a focal point for our own life of faith, “But who do you say that I am?” And without hesitation, Simon Peter’s response became the first recorded public act of faith in Jesus Christ from a disciple we find in human history! “You are the Christ.”
Imagine the wake of a large ship, the waves which it makes as it slices through the sea. The wake widens behind the ship as the ship continues its forward motion, until the wake is finally lost on the horizon. But this wake begins at a single point, which is the bow of the ship itself, cutting through the water.
Faith in Jesus Christ can be likened to this. It is as a wake that widens as it moves throughout the course of human history, and travels to the very ends of the Earth. But it must first start at a single point. And this point is Peter’s act of faith which we read today. “You are the Christ.”
And in Matthew’s Gospel, we read that Peter takes it one step further when he declares, “You are the Messiah [the Christ], the Son of the living God.”
In our First Reading today from the Book of the Prophet Isaiah, we read a foreshadowing of the events which the prophesied Messiah would have to endure.
Peter’s rebuke of our Lord’s statement “…that the Son of Man must suffer greatly…be killed, and rise after three days” could be ascribed to the fact that the Jewish people believed that the coming of the Christ, the Messiah, the “Anointed One”, would usher in a the glorious establishment of a messianic kingdom, an earthly kingdom, awaited by Israel which, according to the prophets, would bring all men the definitive order of justice, love, peace and the defeat and complete freedom from Roman rule.
Peter’s rebuke was an example of this misunderstanding which the Jewish people had regarding the messianic kingdom. And our Lord responds with His own rebuke, “You are thinking not as God does, but as human beings do.”
And when He says, “Get behind me, Satan”, Jesus is also referring to Satan’s attempt to deflect Him from His God-appointed path in fulfilling all the Old Testament prophesies that were written of Him as the “suffering servant”, who is to allow Himself to be led to the slaughter as a Paschal Lamb for the sake of the sins of all people of all generations.
When Jesus asked, “But who do you say that I am?” – the Apostles were still struggling with their new-found faith which they were living the best they could. Most were fisherman, probably not very well-schooled in the Old Testament Scriptures. So, in their limited understanding, they believed in Jesus as far as the human mind would allow them, since they were witnesses to the many miracles and wonders He had performed.
I am sure they talked to Him many times about their own personal feelings and concerns, just as you and I might have done. They ate, slept and prayed with Him. Yet, they still had so much more to learn, and it would not be until they were filled with the Holy Spirit on Pentecost Sunday that their many experiences with Jesus would take on a much fuller understanding of God’s Truth.
You and I know who Jesus is. And you are most likely reading this meditation today because you wish to grow in your faith and in your understanding of God’s will for you in your individual lives, and in the relationship which He is calling you to have with Him.
But when we leave the comfort of His Word and enter the world of reality, do we continue to embrace His Truth in all that He has taught us? Do we live our faith in our daily lives through the witness we give by the words we speak and the examples of Christian love we are each called to share with others?
How do we respond when society blasphemes the very name of Jesus and the very Truth with which He has filled our hearts?
How do we respond when we are confronted with the Divine Truth regarding abortion, pre-marital sex, same-sex marriage, artificial birth control, and all the other societal ills and deceptions which have watered down or completely ignored Divine Truth given to us through our Church’s teachings – which come from the Eternal Father and Christ Himself through the Holy Spirit?
There are many people who call themselves Christian, but, sadly, by the very way in which they respond to the Christian teaching on morality, they cannot, in all truthfulness, answer our Lord’s question, “…who do YOU say that I am?” For they truly do NOT know Him!
Our Lord once said, “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord!’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father in heaven!”
And how do we do fulfill the will of our “Father in Heaven” in our life of faith in the “here-and-now” which we are living? Saint James does not “pull any punches” when he describes, in our Second Reading today, what is required of us in our individual walks of faith – “…faith of itself, if it does not have works, is dead.”
The life of faith which you and I live in our daily lives must always be based first upon our personal relationship with and a true commitment to Jesus Christ, and to His teachings of compassion, mercy, and a true selfless giving of ourselves in the way we live the virtue of love for the sake of others.
It is the witness which we give by the way we love selflessly; it is the example we give by the way we show compassion and generosity for each other, regardless of one’s race, creed, color, religious or political persuasion; it is the humility we live in our hearts – all which defines the very depth of our relationship to our Savior.
And it is also our willingness to deny ourselves, and our willingness to take up our cross and follow in the footsteps of Jesus Christ – which shows our Lord how much we truly love Him!
Who is Jesus Christ to you and me? Or to use the words our Lord asks of us today, “…who do you say that I am?” Our answer is not only expressed in words, but is also expressed in how we live our lives each and every hour of the day, each and every day of the year!
Saint Mother Teresa was once quoted as saying, “Life is an opportunity, benefit from it. Life is a beauty, admire it. Life is a dream, realize it. Life is a challenge, meet it. Life is a duty, complete it…Life is a promise, fulfill it. Life is sorrow, overcome it. Life is a song, sing it.”
In the spirit of the Letter of Saint James, I would like to add one additional line to her inspirational quote:
– Life is knowing that God loves us, live it!
May God bless you, God love you, and may God always keep you. †
Please Comment, Like and Share, and Suggest to your Facebook friends – to spread the message of God’s Merciful Love.
Por favor Comente, Le Gusta y Comparta, y Sugiera a tus amigos en Facebook – en difundir el mensaje del Misericordioso Amor de Dios.
Scripture for the Day
- “Along the way [Jesus] 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.’” (Mark 8:27b-28)
- “And he asked them, ‘But who do you say that I am?’ Peter said to him in reply, ‘You are the Messiah.’” (Mark 8:29)
- “Simon Peter said in reply, ‘You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.’” (Matthew 16:16)
- “…the apostles said to the Lord, ‘Increase our faith.’ The Lord replied, ‘If you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you would say to this mulberry tree, ‘Be uprooted and planted in the sea,’ and it would obey you.’” (Luke 17:5-6)
- “…Christ lives in me; insofar as I now live in the flesh, I live by faith in the Son of God who has loved me and given himself up for me.” (Galatians 2:20)
- “What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him? …So also faith of itself, if it does not have works, is dead…Demonstrate your faith to me without works, and I will demonstrate my faith to you from my works.” (James 2:14, 17, 18b)
- “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord!’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father in heaven!” (Matthew 7:21)
- “Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, then I will enter his house and dine with him, and he with me.” (Revelation 3:20)
- “So be imitators of God, as beloved children, and live in love, as Christ loved us…” (Ephesians 5:1-2a)
Prayer for the Day
“People are often unreasonable, irrational, and self-centered.Saint Mother Teresa of Calcutta
Forgive them anyway.
“If you are kind, people may accuse you of selfish, ulterior motives.
Be kind anyway.
“If you are successful, you will win some unfaithful friends
and some genuine enemies.
“If you are honest and sincere, people may deceive you.
Be honest and sincere anyway.
“What you spend years creating, others could destroy overnight.
“If you find serenity and happiness, some may be jealous.
Be happy anyway.
“The good you do today, will often be forgotten.
Do good anyway.
“Give the best you have, and it will never be enough.
Give your best anyway.
“In the final analysis, it is between you and God.
It was never between you and them anyway.”