Scripture: Lectionary 453: Haggai 1:15-2:9. Psalm 43:18.104.22.168. Luke 9:18-22:
Our first readings coincides with the historical time of the prophet
Zechariah and with the great thrust to rebuild the Temple in Jerusalem.
Haggai addressed the community around 520 B.C. during the reign of Darius
I. He attached a messianic teaching to the rebuilding of the Temple which
would be known as the Second Temple. He strongly influenced the actual
event of the rebuilding which took place under the leadership of Zeubbabel.
In the Gospel we learn of Jesus praying in a secluded place with his
disciples. It is after his prayer that he poses the question, “Who do
people say that I am?” The response that we heard in yesterday’s reading
continues as the disciples say, “John the Baptist, Elijah, or one of the
prophets.” Peter then pipes up and says quite emphatically, “You are the
Messiah of God.” Jesus listens and then tells them that he is the Son of
Man, and that he will undergo much suffering, will be crucified and then
rise from the dead on the third day. This is the first of the three
predictions made in the Synoptics and announced in John through the
expression “being lifted up.”
Jesus, after his prayer, thus reveals the Paschal Mystery of his suffering,
death, and resurrection which will be the centerpiece of the proclamations
carried on through the years and through the Gospels. We celebrate these
mysteries at every Eucharist. Jesus has to modify the enthusiastic
statement of Peter so that he and the other disciples may learn that Jesus
is not going to be a nationalistic royal messiah as they expected, but a
suffering servant of God. Through the Cross and his resurrection evil,
sin, and the devil will be conquered by his supreme act of love and his
total cooperation with the will of God. In Jesus, God’s will is done in
heaven and on earth.
We, like the apostles, learn the mysteries of Christ only slowly. First, we
learn through our own faith in Jesus, and through our prayer and then
through our own passing through life with its inherent limitations,
sufferings, and even death. We experience this by our commitment to Jesus
in all that we do and say. The Paschal Mysteries take time before they are
comprehended in our lives and thus experienced. Those who have gone before
us have given us the example of how to be united with Jesus. The martyrs,
virgins, widows and youth who have died for Christ give us the courage and
example of how to enter these mysteries of a suffering messiah. Thus we,
too, announce who Jesus is just as Peter did. We need patience to do this
for it does take the length of a whole lifetime to experience them. Amen.
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