A question for a lifetime

Who do you say that I am?” It seems like one of those “fish-or-cut-bait” moments, doesn’t it? Peter and the disciples have been with Jesus several years now.  They have heard the sermons, listened to Jesus open up the deeper meaning of the Commandments, witnessed the miracles large and small, seen all the people healed, restored, and heard the amazing words of forgiveness and love. Wouldn’t it seem as though they have had enough time to know Jesus in a deep, intimate, and personal way? Continue reading

What choices will we make?

Next Sunday is the celebration of the 21st Sunday in Ordinary Time. You can read a complete commentary on the Gospel here.

13 When Jesus went into the region of Caesarea Philippi he asked his disciples, “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?”14 They replied, “Some say John the Baptist, others Elijah, still others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.”15 He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?”16 Simon Peter said in reply, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.”17 Jesus said to him in reply, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah. For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my heavenly Father.18 And so I say to you, you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church, and the gates of the netherworld shall not prevail against it.19 I will give you the keys to the kingdom of heaven.  Whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven; and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.”20 Then he strictly ordered his disciples to tell no one that he was the Messiah. (Matthew 16:13-20)
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Live into the answer

There are lots of things about our Faith that I heard/inherited/was taught. The classic from the Baltimore Catechism was (Q.) Why did God make you? (A.) God made me to know Him, to love Him, and to serve Him in this world, and to be happy with Him forever in heaven.  I have known the answer to that question for more than 60 years. It is a great question and Sr. Mary Lawrence assured me it was the perfect answer. Continue reading

Take up the cross: discipleship

Discipleship. 34 He summoned the crowd with his disciples and said to them, “Whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me. 35 For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and that of the gospel will save it.

As Jesus often does, the private conversation gives way to summoning the crowd and the offer of a larger, summary teaching. Earlier (v.33) when Jesus accuses Peter of “thinking” (phreneo) there is an indication of not simply cognitive thought, but something arising from an inner disposition or attitude – something pointing to the role of the human will. This become more clear in the phrase (v.34), “Whoever wishes” – pointing to the idea of human will and freedom of carrying out that will. What is the role of the will in the practical implications of discipleship: deny oneself, take up your own cross, and follow Jesus. Continue reading

Take up the cross: rebuke

Rebuke as Reward  30Then he warned them not to tell anyone about him. 31 He began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer greatly and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests, and the scribes, and be killed, and rise after three days. 32 He spoke this openly…

The Greek epitimaō (warn) is a strong word; hardly one of praise and affirmation. Pheme Perkins [623] has a great insight on what is unfolding: “Readers might expect a word of praise for the confession, since it demonstrates that the disciples are superior to the crowds in their understanding of who Jesus is. Instead, the command to tell no one is introduced with the verb for “rebuke” (ἐπιτιμάω epitimaō), the same verb Mark uses to describe Jesus’ response when the demons acknowledge him as Son of God (3:12). Continue reading

Take up the cross: identity

Who do you say that I am? 27 Now Jesus and his disciples set out for the villages of Caesarea Philippi. Along the way he asked his disciples, “Who do people say that I am?” 28 They said in reply, “John the Baptist, others Elijah, still others one of the prophets.” 29 And he asked them, “But who do you say that I am?” Peter said to him in reply, “You are the Messiah.” Continue reading

Take up the cross: in the world

…All this leads to Caesarea Philippi and one of the pivotal moments in the gospel of Mark. The description of the coming periscope is oddly stated in the Greek, “into the villages of Caesarea Philippi.” Previously Mark had described it as a region (5:1, 17; 7:24, 31; 8:10). In any case, the region was twenty-five miles north of the Sea of Galilee. The area was built up by Herod Philip to serve as the capital of his tetrarchy. It is perhaps noteworthy that the region is two days’ journey away. It’s northern location likely served to separate Jesus and his disciples from the crowds that attended his every move earlier in the ministry. Continue reading

Take up the cross: context

27 Now Jesus and his disciples set out for the villages of Caesarea Philippi. Along the way he asked his disciples, “Who do people say that I am?” 28 They said in reply, “John the Baptist, others Elijah, still others one of the prophets.” 29 And he asked them, “But who do you say that I am?” Peter said to him in reply, “You are the Messiah.” 30 Then he warned them not to tell anyone about him. 31 He began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer greatly and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests, and the scribes, and be killed, and rise after three days. 32 He spoke this openly. Then Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. 33 At this he turned around and, looking at his disciples, rebuked Peter and said, “Get behind me, Satan. You are thinking not as God does, but as human beings do.” 34 He summoned the crowd with his disciples and said to them, “Whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me. 35 For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and that of the gospel will save it. (Mark 8:27–35) Continue reading

Confession: questions

This pericope is located in a section of Matthean narrative that portrays the formation of the church (13:53-17:27) in the midst of the continuing conflict with all levels of Jewish society that is leading towards a growing rejection of Jesus as Messiah. This story forms the hinge of the section because after this Jesus will heighten his attention to the preparation of the disciples for their mission as a community once Jesus has died and resurrected from the dead. It will be a community who perceives and professes his true identity. Continue reading

A silent universe waits

hurricane-seasonIt is June in Florida and we have begun our annual vigil to see if our luck holds and again we will dodge a hurricane. Hurricanes are an expected natural disaster endemic to our State. Sadly, perhaps we also have reached a point where we wait for the next unnatural disaster; the next Nickel Mine School, Columbine, Aurora, San Bernardino, Sandy Hook/Newtown, Virginia Tech, Umpqua Community, Boston, Ft. Hood, Navy Yard Washington DC, or Orlando.  Continue reading