24th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year B – Homily

24th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year B
Isaiah 50:5-9a
James 2:14-18
Mark 8:27-35
September 13 2015

Jesus asks His disciples “Who do people say that I am?”  Jesus has been performing miracles and teaching.  He knows people are talking about Him.  This is what He wants because when we talk about Jesus we can come to a deeper understanding of who He is.

The disciples say others think Jesus is John the Baptist.  John was known for proclaiming the way of the Lord.  Scriptures tell us that Elijah was taken up to Heaven without dying so some expected him to return.  Could Jesus be him?

Jesus then asks His disciples, “But who do you say that I am?

How would you answer the question?  Do you say Jesus is your friend, brother, healer, teacher, prophet, or comforter?  What does it mean to say Jesus is any of this?

Jesus certainly teaches us how to live but do we listen?  Scriptures tell of many miracle cures that Jesus did to heal people.  He also healed people by driving out demons.  Do we let Jesus drive out our demons or do we hold onto our vices?

We might call Jesus our friend or brother.  What does this mean for us?  How many of us have a brother or a friend that we never see or talk to?  We might forget about our friends.  Do we forget about Jesus?

All of these, friend, brother, healer, teacher, are valid and truthful statements of who Jesus is to us but none of them captures all that Jesus is to us.  What word can do Jesus justice?

Peter replies “You are the Christ.”

Jesus truly is the Christ.  The word Christ is a Greek word that is the same as the Hebrew word messiah.  It means anointed or chosen one.  People had long being waiting for a messiah to come to see them free.  They wanted freedom from the Romans.  Jesus brings us freedom from our sins.

It was an important step in faith for Peter to call Jesus the Christ.  Now Peter and the other disciples need to come to understand what it truly means to call Jesus the Christ.  So Jesus begins to tell them about how He will suffer, be rejected, killed, and rise.

Peter can’t accept this.  To him the suffering, rejection, and crucifixion would be defeat to the enemy.  We know better (or at least we proclaim to).  We know that the Crucifixion is not defeat but in fact a triumph where Jesus wins victory over our sins.

How do we look at the Cross and Jesus?  The way we do can say a lot about who Jesus is to us.  We can look at the Crucifix and be grateful for what Jesus did.  In fact that’s why, as Catholics, we have Crucifixes and not just Crosses in Church.  It is Jesus’ death that gives the Cross its power.

When we look at the Crucifix, we can see God’s love and that means His mercy.  How do we respond?

Do we respond by being glad that Jesus was willing to die for us?  We should be glad but what difference does it make to us?

Does it motivate us to live more like Jesus or do we use it as an escape goat, figuring we don’t need to worry about our sins because Jesus will always forgive us?

Or does it get us to respond with love?  Seeing God’s love for us should motivate us to love Him in return.  That means listening to what He teaches us, living as he teaches us.

If we truly believe that Jesus is the Christ, what difference does it make in our lives?  Our faith must make a difference.  James writes about the work we do as Christians.  The works we do show what Jesus means to us.  The works don’t make us Christians.  Our faith does but if we have faith we will do the works that Jesus asks of us.

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