The 24th Sunday in Ordinary Time – 12th September 2021
Lectionary Readings: Isa. 50: 4-9; Ps. 116: 1-6. 8-9; James 2:14-18; Mk. 8: 27-35
Theme: The way of life
“I will walk in the presence of God” is the psalmist’s invitation to us in this Sunday’s readings, walking in the presence of God is the mission and vocation of every Christian. It is not an easy path, but it is a path that we must travel by faith, which is God’s gift to us. The first reading presents us with an anonymous prophet, called by God to witness to the Word of salvation and who, to fulfill this mission, faces persecution, torture, and death. The first Christians saw in this the figure of Jesus: a suffering servant, who even in the face of insults, persecutions and slander remains firm and with unshakeable faith. He recognizes God as his helper and so remains confident and unmoved.
But what should our faith be like? James answers us in the second reading, reminding us that faith must be based on works; faith must be founded on charity. This is the path to the full realization of the human person, which passes through obedience to God’s plans and the total surrender of his/her life to her/his brothers and sisters. The following of Jesus does not materialize with beautiful words or well-developed theories, but with concrete gestures of love, charity, sharing, service, solidarity with our brothers and sisters without distinction. Contrary to what many people think, this path does not lead to failure, but leads to true life: the realization of the divine will.
The Gospel can be divided into two parts: the first part is (8:27-30) which has as its fundamental objective the discovery of Jesus as the Messiah who proclaims the Kingdom of God. The second part (8:31-35) aims at explaining that Jesus, in addition to being the liberating Messiah, is also the “Son of God”. Jesus is the One who was sent into the world by the Father to offer human beings the path of Salvation and full life. This path does not pass through human successes and glories: it is a path of love. Jesus will walk this path, and whoever wants to be his disciple must agree to follow a similar path, even to death, if necessary.
“And who do you say that I am?” (Mk. 8: 29) This question must constantly echo in our ears and our hearts. Answering this question forces us to think about the meaning Christ has for our lives. Who is Christ to me? Is he really the liberating Messiah, whom the Father sent to meet me with a proposal for salvation and full life or is he someone else?
May we, like Christ, pick up our daily crosses firmly in faith, and “renounce ourselves”: not letting selfishness, pride, self-indulgence, and self-sufficiency dominate our lives. Christians are those who make Jesus the Center around whom they build their entire existence. They are also those who renounce the self and take up their crosses in imitation of Jesus.
For Reflection and Discussion: 1. Has my faith been a faith only in words or also in works? 2. Answer Jesus’ question to you: ‘And who do you say I am?’ Bibliography: McKenzie, J.L. Dictionary of the Bible (New York: 1965)
This week’s Sunday Liturgy Commentary was prepared by
Nayon Nigel Cezar, Brazil, ISPS-Ratisbonne: collaborator