Fr. Mike’s Homily of the 24th Sunday in Ordinary Time Year B (2)

Fr. Mike’s Homily of the 24th Sunday in Ordinary Time Year B

Theme: The True Jesus Always Has the Cross

By: Fr. Mike Lagrimas
St. Michael the Archangel Parish
Diocese of Novaliches

 

Homily for Sunday September 12 2021

Mk 8:27-35

During the public ministry of Jesus, the people who saw and heard Him could not have a clear idea about who He was – a political messiah, teacher, healer, wonderworker, prophet, king, and many others besides. In the Gospel this Sunday, Jesus asked His disciples a sort of a survey question: “Who do people say that I am?” He was not really interested in their answer. He was just testing them whether they were affected by the confusing ideas of people about Him. His most important question, however, is what followed: “But who do you say that I am?”

This is the same question Jesus asks of us: “Who do you say that I am?” There are now thousands of religions and sects all over the world, each one preaching about Jesus. But we are not sure whether the Jesus they are preaching is the true Jesus. That is why many people are confused.

Peter gave the correct answer: “You are the Messiah.” But Jesus did two surprising things: first, “he warned them not to tell anyone about him” and second, he called Peter “Satan.” The name Satan means Adversary.

Although Peter gave the correct answer, this truth about the identity of Jesus must remain a secret. Revealing this prematurely could jeopardize His mission. It is either the people would be very excited and agitated and this could threaten the Roman authorities, or they could prevent Him from taking up His cross. So, the disciples must safeguard the “Messianic Secret.”

Jesus also surprised everybody by rebuking Peter: “Get behind me, Satan. You are thinking not as God does, but as human beings do.” This was because, when Jesus was talking about His forthcoming sufferings and death on the cross, Peter objected and tried to dissuade Him: “No! There must be some other way, not the cross! The cross is for criminals and evil-doers, not for you!” These words of Peter must have tempted Jesus. So, He quickly rebuked Peter with the harshest words ever: “Get behind me, Satan!”

Underlying these two surprising actions of Jesus is the reality of the cross. He had to keep His identity hidden from the people because of the cross. And He called Peter “Satan” precisely because he was trying to prevent Him from taking up the cross, and thereby disobey His heavenly Father.

Who is Jesus? The one thing that will definitely identify the true Jesus is the cross. The true Jesus always has the cross. There is no cross-less Jesus. That is why He said: “Whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself, take up his cross and follow me” (Mt 16:24). He is the Suffering Servant of Yahweh that the Prophet Isaiah talks about in the first reading.

The cross has always been the symbol of man’s cruelty – the instrument of torture and death for criminals and enemies of the state. Jesus was no criminal. He has no sin. Yet He was nailed to the cross. He voluntarily suffered and offered up His life on the cross as sacrifice to atone for man’s sins. From that time on, the cross became the most perfect symbol of self-sacrifice, love and salvation.

Our journey as Christians is never easy, for we are following a Crucified Lord. It is the way of rendering good works and loving service to those in need as the Apostle James said in the second reading. It is the way of forgiveness and love, even love of our enemies. It is the way of the Cross.

In the second reading this Sunday, we hear the Suffering Servant’s firm resolve: “I have set my face like flint, knowing that I shall not be put to shame” (Is 50:7). “Setting one’s face like flint” means to look straightforward; to focus oneself towards one direction, never turning his head to other distractions. This is precisely what the Lord wants us to do. He walks ahead of us with the cross on His shoulders. Let us follow Him, with our faces set like flint, knowing that He will surely lead us to victory and eternal glory.

On Tuesday, the 14th of September, we will celebrate the Feast of the Exaltation or the Triumph of the Cross. It is through the cross that Jesus gained for us victory over sin and death. When troubles and problems come, may we hold on to the cross of Christ, and never let go. It is our sure victory, salvation and glory.

Fr. Mike Lagrimas
St. Michael the Archangel Parish
Diocese of Novaliches

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