Gospel Reflection for September 16, 2018, 24th Sunday Ordinary Time

13 Sep

Sunday Readings: Isaiah 50.5-9; James 2.14-18; Mark 8.27-35

Jesus asked his disciples, “Who do you say that I am?” Peter answered him, “You are the Messiah.”  – Mark 8.29

Jesus finally calls the question in chapter 8, the midpoint of Mark’s gospel. In a miracle just before Jesus asks this question, he has to try twice to open the eyes of a blind man. At first the man can see only blurry shapes that look like trees. This two-stage miracle anticipates the disciples response when he asks, “Who do you say that I am?” Peter answers forthrightly, “You are the Messiah.”

Back to back with Peter’s declaration of faith in Jesus, Jesus teaches for the first time that the Son of Man will suffer, be put to death, and rise after three days. To this, Peter objects and takes Jesus aside to rebuke him. Instead Jesus rebukes Peter for setting his mind on human things. Peter’s vision is blurry at this point. Only Jesus’ death destroys Peter’s received ideas of a warrior messiah. Only Jesus’ resurrection transforms his disciples’ understanding. Mark’s gospel explores how faith in Jesus develops in his disciples and calls us to the same threshold of faith at the empty tomb.

What popular ideas of Jesus have you outgrown?

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