Homily for 24th Sunday in Ordinary Time Year B.
Text: Isaiah 50:5-9; James 2:14-19; Mark 8: 27-35.
Theme: FOLLOWING & SUFFERING FOR CHRIST.
The life of a disciple of the Lord Jesus is to walk the same path as the Master-Teacher. That will include facing trials, opposition, and even persecution. Yet the disciple can expect help from the Master-Teacher. The readings today, tells us “no cross, no crown.” There can be no Easter without a Good Friday. Anyone who is preaching a Cross-less Christianity, is leading people astray.
Our first reading from Isaiah is one of the “Suffering Servant Songs.” It is the prophecies about Jesus Christ the messiah. He was not rebellious. On the contrary, He did the Father ‘s will by proclaiming and securing salvation for humanity. Through his action, Christ proved his love for us. Also, through it, He demonstrated his faith His father.
Our second reading is a challenge to each one of us to be practical with our faith. It presents us with the reality of what it actually means to be a true Christian. James reminds us that: “Faith without good work is dead or useless.”
In today’s gospel Jesus spoke about fulfilling the prophesy of Isaiah. His mission was to redeem humanity through his own suffering and death. However, Peter did not understand this. Although, he was right in professing that Jesus is the Messiah, it was difficult for him to understand how Jesus could offer himself to be killed for the salvation of all. Whereas Jesus’ death is the door to human salvation.
LESSONS TO LEARN FROM THE SCRIPTURES OF TODAY
- FAITH IN ACTION
practical Christianity means faith in action. It means accepting to carry our cross humbly and patiently while relying on the same grace that helped Christ. It is by carrying his cross and dying on it that Christ demonstrated his love and generosity for us. So, he wants us to do the same. Practical faith helps us to understand and live the mystery of the cross. Faith without action is dead. Put another way, an un-demonstrated faith is of no value. Practical Christianity means faith in action. It means sacrifice. It means sharing in the pain and joy of others. We must express our faith in concrete actions.
- WHO IS JESUS TO ME?
You are the Christ (Messiah) the Son of the living God.” Peter was the first apostle to recognize Jesus publicly as the Anointed One, the Messiah, the Christ. To say that Jesus is the Christ, the anointed one of God is to say that He is the Immanuel, the Salvation of God, God who became Man to save sinners! We need to ask ourselves these questions:
- How do I really see Jesus?
- Is Jesus a living experience for me, walking with me, loving me, forgiving me, helping me and transforming my life?
- What difference does Jesus make in my life?
- Have I really given my life to Jesus?
- Where have I excluded Jesus, from my life.
- Who do we say that Jesus is through our daily life?
- Who do we say that Jesus is when we are in the presence of those who don’t know Jesus, those who aren’t interested in Jesus?
- What does the way we live and behave say about who Jesus is?
We must allow the joy, the love, the peace that we find in Jesus reflected in the way we live our lives.
- WE NEED TO EXPERIENCE JESUS AS OUR LORD & SAVIOR.
We need to experience Jesus as our Lord and Savior and surrender our life to Jesus. The knowledge of Jesus as Lord and personal Savior needs to become a living, personal experience for each of us. This is made possible, with the grace of God, by our listening to Jesus through the daily, meditative reading of the Bible, by our talking to Jesus through daily, personal and family prayers, by our offering to Jesus our lives on the altar in the Holy Mass and by our being forgiven by and reconciled with Jesus in the Sacrament of Reconciliation. The next step is the surrender of our lives to Jesus through rendering humble and loving service to others with the strong conviction that Jesus is present in every person.
- TAKE UP OUR CROSS & FOLLOW JESUS.
We must be ready to take up our crosses and follow Jesus. Jesus’ challenge to all would-be disciples requires more than a “feel-good” spirituality. As true disciple we must be willing to sacrifice our all for the God who loves us. We must be ready to offer all day-to-day sacrifices asked by Jesus, especially when things out of the ordinary are demanded of us. Taking up our Cross and following Jesus includes sacrificing our need to be in control and let Christ do with us what He will. We must stand against all unjust practices and actions. We can sacrifice our ego for peace to reign.
The life of a disciple of the Lord Jesus demands acknowledgment of Who Jesus is, just as Peter did in the Gospel. This testament of faith must be put into action, as James reminds us. Following Jesus involves being willing to get down and get dirty in the process of assisting in the rescuing of others who have sunk into the cesspools of life. We cannot do it alone. We can achieve a-lot with the help of the Master-Teacher and our willingness to hold on tight to His hand that we can reach out to help others and draw them to safety. May we be able to go through the challenging times of our lives with faith, and joy.
May Our Suffering in this Life, lead us to eternal Joy. Amen.
Fr Paul George Ekanem, C.Ss.R
Church of Ascension, Nyahasang, Calabar.