Reflection on the Daily Readings for 9/13/09 by Fr. Bertrand Buby, SM

Today’s Readings

Scripture: Lectionary # 132. 24th Sun. B.  Isaiah 50:4-9. Psalm
116:1-2,3-4,5-6, 8-9. James 2:14-18. Mark 8:27-35.

Mark's Gospel is the starkest. It is called the Gospel of the Cross, a
theme which runs through this Gospel and makes demands on those who would
be followers of Jesus.  Today's selection serves as a summary of several of
the important themes of Mark: Discipleship, the Messianic Secret, Peter as
apostle, and certainly the theme of the Cross which is predicted three
times in the middle of this first Gospel.  Mark himself may have been a
follower of Peter in his remembering what Jesus said and did.  Even the
point of view of Mark is given in today's selection: Follow the thinking of
God and God's judgment not that of humans.  Or as one book on Mark has it:
"Think the thoughts of God not of men."  Mark also is the Evangelist who
has Jesus asking many questions of his listeners both those who are
attentive and those who are not.  So when we are asked "Who do people say
that I am?"  "And who do you say that I am?" We are to take the place of
the listeners written about in the Gospel.  By following the rest of the
Gospel and what went before we will come up with a very good insight into
who Jesus is and will be able to give him and answer which will show Jesus
where we stand in our relationship with him.  Like all good writers, his
introduction and first chapter will put us in a good frame of mind to not
only to answer the question he is asking but also to realize who Jesus
really is.

We are to place ourselves in the persons of the apostles and maybe in the
shoes of the fisherman, Peter. He does give one of the correct answers but
does not want to live it out as Jesus explains to him what it means to be
the true Messiah of Israel.  Isaiah gives us the correct approach to who
the Messiah is. Peter just blurted out the answer withot realizing what it
means.  He was similar to many students who just repeat and memorize a
lesson without really grasping it through thought, reflection, and human
logic.  Jesus keeps asking us other questions so that eventually we may
come to see who he really is and should be for us.  So....(Put your name
here), Who do you say that Jesus is?

This citation from a liturgical help called OCP gives us the reason why
Isaiah 50:4-9 can help us understand who Jesus is.  "Perhaps that's why the
Church's liturgists paired this Gospel with one of Isaiah's Suffering
Servant passages normally associated with the opening of Passion Week. Who
the prophet had in mind in composing these poignant passages remains a
mystery, but it isn't difficult to see Jesus' suffering and death
prefigured in them. It may be that this mystery is being held up to us
today in an attempt to help us see that the road Jesus walked led
ultimately to degradation and agony, and if we consider ourselves his
followers, our road will not always be smoothly paved either. Of course,
the road did not end for Jesus at Golgotha but rather at the empty tomb, as
will ours, but for today we are asked to consider how much we are willing
to endure without running off down the nearest side road. That's the kind
of cold water Jesus throws in the faces of the apostles when he lays it out

Mark has put us on the right road with his very first line when he tells
us: "A beginning of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God."  Two
titles guide us through our reading of Mark: Jesus as the Son of God and
Jesus as the Son of Man (his humanity is the same as ours). We learn from
the start how to prepare our response to Jesus from these two titles given
to us in the first Gospel ever written.  As believers we not only listen to
Mark but also recite a summary of our beliefs in the Creed that we say
after the homily. Here we have the Church's answer to Jesus' question. This
helps us to correctly frame our own belief statement and answer to Jesus
when he asks us, "Who do you say I am?"  Credo in Unum Deum....Amen.