Thursday 17 February 2022 – YOU ARE THE CHRIST

6th Week in Ordinary Time

1st Reading: Jas 2:1-9          

My brothers and sisters, show no partiality as you adhere to the faith in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ. For if a man with gold rings and fine clothes comes into your assembly, and a poor person with shabby clothes also comes in, and you pay attention to the one wearing the fine clothes and say, “Sit here, please,” while you say to the poor one, “Stand there,” or “Sit at my feet,” have you not made distinctions among yourselves and become judges with evil designs? Listen, my beloved brothers and sisters. Did not God choose those who are poor in the world to be rich in faith and heirs of the Kingdom that he promised to those who love him? But you dishonored the poor. Are not the rich oppressing you? And do they themselves not haul you off to court? Is it not they who blaspheme the noble name that was invoked over you? However, if you fulfill the royal law according to the Scripture, You shall love your neighbor as yourself, you are doing well. But if you show partiality, you commit sin, and are convicted by the law as transgressors.

Gospel: Mk 8:27-33             

Jesus and his disciples set out for the villages of Caesarea Philippi. Along the way he asked his disciples, “Who do people say that I am?” They said in reply, “John the Baptist, others Elijah, still others one of the prophets.” And he asked them, “But who do you say that I am?” Peter said to him in reply, “You are the Christ.” Then he warned them not to tell anyone about him. He began to teach them that 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. Then Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. At this he turned around and, looking at his disciples, rebuked Peter and said, “Get behind me, Satan. You are thinking not as God does, but as human beings do.

YOU ARE THE CHRIST: “But who do you say that I am?” Peter answers, “You are the Christ.” But when Jesus predicts that he would be rejected by the elders, the chief priests and scribes and the scribes Peter begins to ‘rebuke’ Jesus. To the same Peter to whom, according to the version of Matthew Jesus said, when he answered the question, “flesh and blood has not revealed this to you but my heavenly Father” now he says, “Get behind me, Satan. You are thinking not as God does, but as human beings do”. For Peter it was impossible to think about a suffering Messiah. This is one of the most basic temptations that the followers of Christ face as individuals, Christian communities and as an entire Church. How can we think of God, “not as God does but as human beings do”. Am I among those seeking and trying to follow a risen Christ who has not undergone suffering and death?

Prayer: Lord Jesus, help me to understand the salvific value of suffering and joyfully follow you.

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REKINDLE YOUR FAITH IN THE LORD: When Jesus asks, ” Who do people say that I am?” He is neither asking for a report card of his performance, nor is he looking for a certificate of appreciation. He is rather helping his disciples figure out who their Master is. The apostles rightly discover Him as the Messiah, the Anointed one. While this is correct, Jesus adds that He is also headed for death on the cross. At this difficult reality, Jesus is stressing that if you want to be a Christian, you must deny yourself and take up the cross each day and follow Him (Lk 9: 23). It is to this realization that he wishes to guide all of us. This is the challenge that is before us today; to be in the world and display with our lives that we do not belong to the world. We may not be in control of what happens to us, but can and should choose to respond in Christ-like ways. Let our lips say, “Do not cast me away from your presence, and do not take your Holy Spirit from me” (Ps 51:11).

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THE MOST IMPORTANT QUESTION: Christian journey is a joyous way illuminated by the graciousness of the Savior of the world. Along that way, Jesus asks a very important question of his disciples. “Who do you say that I am?” is the same question asked of every disciple in every age. The disciples list a whole series of labels that people have applied to Jesus. And these names reveal all the different expectations held about him. When Jesus asks his disciples of their perception of him, he asks what people are saying about him. Probably taken aback by the question, the disciples dredge their memories for overheard remarks, snatches of shared conversation, opinions circulating in the fishing towns of the lake area. The replies of the disciples are varied, as are those of each of us today when Jesus, through someone else’s lips, asks us the same question, and with increasing frequency and intensity. In today’s Gospel, Jesus will be the Messiah only when he lays down his life for others. And I will be like Jesus only when I lay down my life for others. Jesus’ identity is found in doing the will of God!