24th Sunday in Ordinary Time
"But who do you say that I am?" (Mk. 8:27-35)
When one asks questions, he or she is seeking to discover and understand a comment or an event. Although there are several other reasons people pose questions, one must pay close attention to the question when it comes to the Divine asking a question. Jesus is Divine, and he knows every word that comes from our lips. Therefore, in Mark's gospel today, we must focus on the question that Jesus asks twice from different perspectives. Jesus was searching for something unique.
Look at this second question again, "But who do you say that I am?" The only difference between this question and the first, "who do people say that I am?" is the intended audience. The first question, directed to the people, was more of a probing question. The response to the first question will give Jesus a sense of what the busy mouths are saying. The only problem with the first question is that the response does not provide personal testimony of an individual who knows Jesus. And yet, many people may know Jesus' title and not his purpose.
Mark's gospel challenges us to know more than Jesus' title, we must know His plan. The Epistle James in our second reading gives us a glimpse of Jesus' plan. James said, "If a brother or sister has nothing to wear and has no food for the day, and one of you says to them, "Go in peace, keep warm, and eat well," but you do not give them the necessities of the body, what good is it?" In other words, kind words or warm wishes do not fulfill the mission of Jesus; they exhibit only a dead faith. You must clothe the naked and feed the hungry. Christians who complete these actions demonstrate a witness of faith that is alive and fully active. We must embrace one of the most important themes of the Bible; we must attend to the poor, widows, and children in the world.
Knowing Jesus' title is not going to feed the hungry or clothe the naked. One must understand who Jesus is and the plan. Jesus, in Mark's gospel, reveals more clearly the plan after Peter correctly identifies Jesus as the Christ. We must be willing to deny ourselves, which means attending to the lonely, the outcasts, the forsaken, and the foreigner. When we pick up our cross and follow Jesus, we will save our lives and others by our faithful actions towards them. Jesus was looking for someone who understood the plan. Do you know the plan in following Jesus?
"You have faith and I have works. Demonstrate your faith to me without works, and I will demonstrate my faith to you from my works."
Christians who, by faith, work Jesus' plan fulfills his mission.
Author: Evangelist Michael P. Howard, MACS