24th Sunday in Ordinary Time
Isaiah 50: 5 – 9a, James 2: 14 – 18, Mark 8: 27 – 35
What is life all about? What’s happening? These questions are on our lips as we look around the world and see things truly changing. Climate change, pandemic, collapse of values, of nations and peoples, our own democracy threatened by our own citizens. And more!
All these upheavals challenge us, especially young people trying to make sense of life and their place in the world. For us as people of faith, St. James clues us in – it’s how we live in Christ that tells the story and answers the question. But it starts with Jesus’ own question to us – who do you say I am.
Jesus confronts the disciples – Jesus confronts each of us today, with the deep and essential question for everyone. Just who is Jesus for you? Well, we can say he is God, the Son of God, Son of Mary, Lord and Savior, the Christ, The anointed one of God. Then hopefully, we can say – he is my Savior, he is my Lord and Christ. If we can say Jesus is the Christ, then we are able to know what our life should look like. We follow him, we seek to think like him, act like him. So ask yourself, how am I living with this faith in Jesus? How am I like Jesus?
What comes up for you with that question? Does all your weakness come to mind? All your virtues? Is there a real examination of conscience, like: How am I really doing with this fundamental life stance of the Christian? Do I ever think about it?
The suffering servant of the Prophet Isaiah offers himself in suffering, but relies on God. We all certainly have a lot of challenges in life, even suffering. And in the midst of it all, are we putting ourselves on the line for others, for Jesus, by proclaiming the truth of the Gospel and the Lordship of Jesus? Are we proclaiming the truth of these values that are life giving for every person? After all, Jesus’ own spirit is within us, we are the beloved of God, we are the redeemed, God has love and mercy for each of us. Our future is in God. That’s why Israel can stand firm, knowing that ultimate victory is with God.
We can do that because God is also our anchor. The Lord God, as Isaiah declares, is our help. It takes a relationship with Christ to hold on, to see, to feel the connection we have in Christ with God. And there is our life and hope. With this reality of God within, we then can live life in Christ. There are so many ways today to give of yourself, – to be for others first. Just like Christ before us. Think of all the times that you have been called on to accept others who drive you crazy. Who tries your patience, who is off the wall, but there you are to reach out and be there in some very human way for them? How about those in need? How about reaching out to all those in your life in need with some love and mercy?
Perhaps it’s the opportunity to mend a relationship that has tension and here’s the chance. Now, as you are in touch with God loving you, take the courage Jesus offers you now to do something about the tensions in your life. There’s always a way but it’s letting go of having to be right, of having to be in control. It’s a willingness to be open to the needs of others before your own. That’s hard, we all know, but all things are possible with God. Remember, every challenge carries some demands, some renunciation of yourself. What does it mean for you to love selflessly? It’s living out of sacrificial love! What other way to be true disciples of Christ?
It’s knowing that God holds us in our suffering , as God hold’s Christ in his suffering and brought Jesus to new life. God does that in us to. And if we can hold each other in our suffering, since we all experience suffering in some way, we all are vulnerable, imagine what can happen – real empathy and compassion that can really change the world. Because we are together in this human experience, we are one, if we have the heart to see it and then to realize we are living in oneness with Christ! And right there is the fulfillment of our life.