Zechariah 12:10-11, 13:1; Psalm 63:2-6, 8-9; Galatians 3:25-29; Luke 9:18-24
First Reading: Zechariah’s passage is confusing and difficult to contextualize but the reference to “[o]n that day” probably refers to the end time when the Lord will return to set things right. On that day God will pour a spirit of grace on David’s house and all of Jerusalem.
Psalm 63: Today’s Responsorial Psalm connects with the purifying fountain provided by God in the first reading. Without God, our entire being is lifeless and without water.
Second Reading: In today’s second reading, Paul clearly professes that all who are baptized into Christ are now connected in a manner that transcends all the divisions and boundaries that separate humans for one another.
Gospel: Suffering and trials have always been a part of human life. This is one reason that three of the four Gospel accounts preserve the saying of Jesus that those who would follow him must take up the cross. However, the crosses we bear are not for our destruction. With the kindness of God’s presence and the example of Jesus, we carry our cross in hope.
Reflection: Having an identity crisis?! It seems that we all go through periods in our lives when we question what others think of us. In today’s gospel and at other significant moment’s in Jesus’ ministry, Jesus poses a key question to his disciples. “Who do the crowds say that I am?” It’s hard to imagine he’s looking for information in their responses. Surely he already knew something of what the crowds were saying about him. It seems more likely Jesus’ original question was but a prelude to the question that really mattered: “Who do you say that I am?” The crowd’s speculation could have ranged from somber to silly, but Peter’s reply comes like a sledgehammer on a six-penny nail. Jesus’ way of signaling that Peter has hit the nail on the head is to order him and the others “not to tell this to anyone.”
In first century Palestine, “The Christ of God” suggested the long awaited messiah – a soldier-king – who would drive the hated Roman enemy from Israel. But Luke’s use of the title suggests the anointed one who comes to save all people, Jew and non-Jew alike.
How Jesus will become that source of salvation is bluntly stated in Jesus’ own prediction of his suffering, death, and Resurrection. The transfiguration will follow on the heels of this first prediction of the Passion and will substantiate Jesus’ claim that his suffering will lead to exaltation. But the disciples know none of that now. What they must somehow swallow is the promise that Jesus will suffer, and that anyone who wants to save his life must be willing to do the same.
So, who do the crowds say that you are? A follower of Jesus? One willing to suffer unto death for a friend/foe? Through baptism we share in Jesus’ identity and mission. Following Jesus has its cost. The statement in the gospel is true: we save our lives by losing them. We know this is true because Jesus showed us the way.
Question for reflection: Who do the crowds say that I am? Is my identity reflected in my discipleship?
Copyright © 2016, Scott W. Eakins. All Rights Reserved.