SUNDAY’S GOSPEL – Mark 8:27-35.
Jesus went on with his disciples to the villages of Caesarea Philippi; and on the way he asked his disciples, “Who do people say that I am?” And they answered him, “John the Baptist; and others, Elijah; and still others, one of the prophets.” He asked them, “But who do you say that I am?” Peter answered him, “You are the Messiah.” And he sternly ordered them not to tell anyone about him. Then he began to teach them that the Son of Man must undergo great suffering, and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests, and the scribes, and be killed, and after three days’ rise again. He said all this quite openly.
And Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. But turning and looking at his disciples, he rebuked Peter and said, “Get behind me, Satan! For you are setting your mind not on divine things but on human things.” He called the crowd with his disciples, and said to them, “If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake, and for the sake of the gospel, will save it.
POINTERS FOR PRAYER
- “Who do you say that I am?” Imagine Jesus putting this question to you. How would you answer it? How would you answer it, not in words taken from a catechism or textbook, but from your own experience of the significance of Jesus in your life? What does Jesus mean to you? What does his gospel message mean to you?
- Jesus went on to teach his disciples that following him would be hard at times. There would be a price to pay. Perhaps you also have found that imitating the love and compassion of Jesus is not an easy road? Nor does it come easy to have the constant trust in God that Jesus had. Yet, Jesus tells us that this is the way to life. Would you agree?
- There is a natural human tendency to shy away from what is painful or difficult. Yet if that is our standard pattern of behaviour we will not get far in reaching our potential. We will never find who we are capable of being. When have you found it worthwhile to face difficulties, persevere, “carry your cross” for a while in order to achieve some goal that was important to you?
This Gospel reading is a kind of hinge passage in Mark, forming the closure of the first part and opening the middle section of the Gospel. Naturally, the direct question of Jesus speaks to every generation, but it might be worth bearing in mind that there are three paragraphs in the Gospel: the identity of the Jesus, the passion prediction and the teaching on discipleship. All three are intimately intertwined.