Dear Holy Spirit, please increase our understanding.
What joy do we receive from following Jesus? We don’t see much joy in the dimension of following Jesus in the first reading today from second Isaiah’s the third “Suffering Servant Song.” It is a prophetic message of some of the sufferings the Messiah would have to endure for humanity. It was given some 500 years before Jesus was born.
As we think of the passion and death of Christ on Good Friday, it seemed as if his heavenly father abandoned him at death. Yet Jesus came back to life in a beautiful and glorious body three days later. That was part of the Father’s plan to save the human race.
Jesus had to suffer, condemned for the sins and disobedience of the entire human race. He clearly showed us that he is not dead but fully alive. Through baptism we enter into that new life with Christ. Psalm 116:8 today tells us: “For he has freed my soul from death, my eyes from tears, my feet from stumbling.” Amen!
This section of Mark’s gospel today is a turning point, half way through that gospel. Jesus asks his disciples who the people say he is. After that dialogue Jesus tells them part of how things will end, with his rejection, suffering, death and resurrection. Of course they don’t understand because Jesus was doing such marvelous signs in healing, miracles and teaching. They thought he was on the verge of becoming the new King of a restored kingdom of Israel. They were going to be in the first places in it. Peter, the imperious, privately objects to Jesus’ death prediction. Jesus had to sternly “put Peter in his place.”
Who is Jesus?
Who is Jesus for us today? If we go back and prayerfully read and think about all the things that Jesus was doing in the earlier chapters of Mark, we are indeed filled with excitement and joy. No one else was doing what Jesus was doing. I think we want to know more fully that Jesus is our only personal Lord and savior. This brings us much joy.
Yet Jesus reminds us at the end of Mark’s passage today that we too must take up our personal cross and follow behind Jesus. We don’t want to think about the suffering, yet it is part of our own purification from our sins. As we follow Jesus each day, we are sharing with others the divine power (grace) that we have with those around us. St. James tells us in the second reading today that we must put into action our faith in Jesus.
Jesus, please give us the grace to keep following you each day and bringing your love and grace to others. This is indeed joyful good news.
Peace and all good, as St. Francis of Assisi would say,
+ Fr. Bob Hilz
(© 2015 Fr. Bob Hilz, TOR)