Updated: Oct 5, 2018
Twenty-fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Often when we read the Prophets or the Psalms, we place ourselves in the first person
narrative. It is easy to pray a psalm that speaks to something we ourselves are suffering or experiencing. But today’s prophecy from Isaiah cannot mean anything but a prophecy of Jesus and his suffering.
The Psalm as well could apply to our suffering, but applies better as a prophecy of Jesus’ suffering and death.
In the letter of James, we are chided to accompany our faith with works. “So also faith of itself, if it does not have works, is dead.” We are urged to reach out from our faith, the gift of God, to go further into good works to those who suffer. If we reach out to those who need our help, we are truly fulfilling our faith in Christ.
HE SPOKE THIS OPENLY
Just as Isaiah prophesies the suffering of Jesus in rather specific terms—“I gave my back to those who beat me, my cheeks to those who plucked my beard; my face I did not shield from buffets and spitting”—Jesus, in speaking to his disciples, clearly reveals to them that he will suffer and die, which bewilders and shocks them. “The Son of Man must suffer greatly and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests, and the scribes, and be killed, and rise after three days. He spoke this openly.” They don’t know what to do with this information, and they can’t envision their beloved Lord suffering and dying in this way.
“YOU ARE THE CHRIST”
Jesus asks the disciples who the people say he is. Some say, “John the Baptist, others Elijah, still others one of the prophets.” This odd answer shows that the disciples were beginning to form a rudimentary understanding that it was possible to rise from the dead. So it is puzzling that when Jesus says that he will “rise after three days,” they would seemingly not quite comprehend this.
But when Jesus asks, “Who do you say that I am?” Peter speaks for the disciples: “You are the Christ.” Moments later, the rather confused Peter objects to the Jesus’ assertion that he will suffer and die. Jesus stunningly rebukes him for his objection, “Get behind me, Satan. You are thinking not as God does, but as human beings do.”
Although Peter is beginning to form true faith in his declaration of belief in Christ, he still is thinking like a human, and has not yet begun to see the world through God’s eyes. Peter’s faith has not yet grown to its full stature, as it will after the Resurrection.
Our gift of faith sees and believes the suffering and death of Christ, but we still might not see the consequences of that faith. Our works arise out of our belief in and love for the Lord. Through our faith, we must not only believe, but help others as Christ would do. This is seeing the world through God’s eyes.
Today’s Readings: Is 50:5–9a; Ps 116:1–2, 3–4, 5–6, 8–9; Jas 2:14–18; Mk 8:27–35