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

Who do you say that I am?

gospel-of-mark27 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) – 24th Sunday, Year B Continue reading

What do you believe in there?

Nicodemus and JesusThere are many different scenes and settings in which this basic scenario can play out. Barbara Taylor Brown tells of a woman in her congregation who left church, her mind and attention already turned to many things. She did not notice a lost-looking man on the sidewalk staring up at the cross on the steeple. She excused herself and started to walk on her way when the man called to her, and, pointing to the doors of the church, asked, “What is it that you believe in there?” She started to answer and then was unsure of what to say, or how to say it, or if she should say it. After a long uncomfortable silence, the man said, “Sorry to have bothered you” and walked away. Continue reading