Twelfth Sunday in Ordinary Time – 19 June 2022
Lectionary Readings: Zech. 12:10-11. 13:1; Ps. 63:1-5. 7-8; Gal. 3:26-29; Lk. 9:18-24
The passage from Luke’s gospel designated for this Sunday’s liturgy (9.18-24) recounts a crucial moment for Jesus with his disciples, a moment that becomes a pivotal experience in his life and ministry. The opposition that Jesus had successfully withstood in 4.16-9.6 now accelerates, taking on a new perspective, that of the cross (Karris, 699).
At the heart of this account is the three-fold identification of Jesus: the first is the disciples’ report that the crowds call him “the Baptist, Elijah, or one of the prophets” (9.19); the second is Peter’s affirmation that he is “the Christ of God”/God’s anointed (9.20), a title that conveys Jesus’ power to save from the forces of evil. However, Jesus immediately silences Peter, using instead the title “Son of Man” (9.22), which had occurred in 5:24 and 6:5 to depict Jesus’ authority over sin and the sabbath, but now is used to describe his humiliation, sensitively conveying the suffering, rejection by the religious establishment, and the death that he must endure (9.22). His dire prophetic statement ends with the assurance that on the third day, he will be raised, a promise that the disciples can hardly comprehend, but here takes on the authority of God’s plan emerging behind the deepening opposition to Jesus, and pointing to the vindication of Jesus that will come with the Resurrection.
The intimacy of that dreadful moment with his disciples is broken as Jesus addresses “them all” – the others who had also gathered to hear him – instructing them that discipleship means taking up one’s cross daily, losing one’s life for Jesus’ sake (9.23-24).
The Zechariah and Galatians passages elaborate on the meaning of discipleship. Borrowing an image from a pagan mourning ritual, Zechariah envisages grieving in Jerusalem over “one whom they have pierced,” a phrase that appears again in John 19.37 in the passion of Christ. For Zechariah, this is the way that God will bring about a new interior attitude that flows from repentance. In Galatians, union with Christ through faith and baptism brings about a filial adoption; all differences (Jew or Greek, etc.) vanish through incorporation into Christ. In response, we can proclaim with the Psalmist, “your steadfast love is better than life … I will bless you as long as I live” (63.3, 4).
Note: In some countries, “The Body and Blood of Christ” has been transferred from 16 June, to this Sunday. However, this commentary reflects on “The Twelfth Sunday of Ordinary Time,” as on the Bat Kol writers’ calendar.
For Reflection and Discussion: 1) What does “take up your cross daily” mean in your life? 2) How would you describe the qualities and commitments of “Christian discipleship” today, to a catechumen?
Bibliography: Brown, R. E. et al., The New Jerome Biblical Commentary (Prentice Hall, New Jersey, 1990); Levine, A-J. and Brettler, M.Z., The Jewish Annotated New Testament (Oxford U. Press, New York, 2017).
This week’s Sunday Liturgy Commentary was prepared by
Diane Willey, nds, Canada, M.A. Theology, Bat Kol Alumna 2005, 2006