XXIV SUNDAY OF THE YEAR
isaiah 50:5-9a; james 2:14-18; mark 8:27-35
before joining an organization, prospective members need to know two things: the identity and the mission of the organization; and their job profile.
likewise, to belong to the «organization» of JESUS, disciples need to know his identity and mission; and what being a christian entails.
today’s readings unambiguously answer these questions.
the gospel is the mid-point of mark’s gospel.
the first part of mark’s gospel reveals JESUS as the messiah who mediates GOD’s power by teaching and healing with authority, and reaches its climax in peter’s faith-declaration: «you are the CHRIST».
the second part reveals the kind of a messiah JESUS is: a messiah who must suffer, be rejected and be killed. «must»… there is a certain necessity about his suffering and death. he is not a glorious messiah; not a david-like figure; not a military leader. he is the suffering servant.
the first reading expresses the suffering of yahweh’s servant; he resolutely and unflinchingly faces the suffering that necessarily comes his way as GOD’s prophet.
but there is no place for suffering in peter’s idea of the messiah. he objects and rebukes JESUS, who tells peter to take his place as a disciple… behind the master!
getting behind JESUS entails taking up the cross and following him on his way to jerusalem. being a disciple necessarily involves suffering.
but messiahship and discipleship is not only about suffering. JESUS is convinced that he will be raised on the third day, and promises his disciples that if they carry their cross, they will find their real life in communion with GOD.
we are not prospective disciples. we already are JESUS’ disciples, but we need to be clear about his identity and our profile.
who is JESUS for me? is he merely a wonder-worker? a healer? someone whom i ask to take away my problems to smoothen my life?
how do i see discipleship? a coupon for blessings and graces? or a taking up of my cross to follow JESUS along the via dolorosa? am i willing to accept suffering… the grief of life i can do nothing about and the suffering that comes from living as a disciple?