Go back to the gospels

XXIV Sunday in Ordinary Time

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Dear brothers and sisters, Fiat!

Every year, at the beginning of a new pastoral year, after the summer break, the Liturgy of the Word proposes the same Gospel. In fact, all three Synoptic Gospels relate the episode of Jesus asking the apostles in Caesarea Philippi what the people thought of Him. Peter's answer is common to all three. Matthew reports a more complete answer: "You are the Christ, the Son of the living God" (Mt. 16:16). Mark, on the other hand, writes: "You are the Christ". Today's pericope is at the center of Mark's entire narrative both literally and theologically, in the sense that it concludes the first part of the Gospel and opens the second one.

Jesus the Master wanted to know what the disciples thought of Him, and to do so He started from afar, asking them, "Who do people say that I am?"

Jesus knew well what His opponents thought of Him: the elders of the people, the high priests, the scribes and the Pharisees. All people scandalized by Jesus' behavior. For them Jesus of Nazareth was a troublemaker, one who eats with publicans and sinners, one who does not observe the Sabbath rest, who does not fast with His disciples, who forgives sins, who heals the sick and frees the possessed. In short, one not to be recognized or accepted.

The Master also knew what the crowd thought of Him. The people who followed Jesus were fascinated by His words, they were admired by the miracles He performed; there was something extraordinary about that rabbi, He spoke as one who had authority; they understood that He was far more than the other teachers of the law. People esteemed Him as a prophet similar to John the Baptist or Elijah. But they did not understand the mystery of His person. People did not grasp the newness of Jesus. Even in our countries of ancient Christianity there are many people who do not know who Jesus is.

But what really interested Jesus was what His disciples, those who had left everything and followed Him, thought about it. The Master expressed this with a direct and cogent question, "But who do you say that I am?" Everything was at stake here. In fact, the question was formulated in order to bring the disciples into His mystery. Peter gave a wonderful answer, "You are the Christ." And Jesus proclaimed him blessed.

This is the fundamental question of the Gospel. "But who do you say that I am?". The answer requires silence and reflection. The essence of the Christian life lies here. Jesus knows very well who He Himself is It is we who must clarify our ideas! In fact, it is not enough to recognize Jesus as the Messiah. We must accept His messianism as it is, not as we would like it to be. We cannot be disciples out of habit, out of fatigue: our Master does not want Christians in tow, He does not like fake devotions. This question directly challenges us. We cannot forget it or dismiss it. Every day we must consider our idea of Jesus and above all the meaning He has in our lives. There are many occasions in life in which we must demonstrate the same conviction as Peter. "You are the Christ." The Christian is not a follower of an idea. We follow Jesus. We acknowledge Him as our Savior. And we should follow Him by carrying our cross.

Through His question - "But who do you say that I am?" - and His invitation - "If anyone wants to follow me ..." -, Jesus gives a glimpse that there is a new possibility, that there is something different, that it is possible to change. It really is possible! We just need to want it with all our heart, to let ourselves be guided by the Spirit and train our gaze so as not to lose sight of the Master's steps.

In the passage of November 22, 1921, Jesus tells Luisa that the acts done in the Divine Will are daylight for Him; and if man, with his sins, surrounds Him with darkness, these acts, more than solar rays, defend Him from darkness, surround Him with light, and take Him by the hand to make Him known to creatures for Who He is. This is why Jesus loves so much one who lives in the Divine Will - because in It she can give Jesus everything, she defends Him from all, and Jesus feels like giving her everything and enclosing in her all the goods which He should give to all others. Suppose that the sun had reason, and that plants were rational, and of their own will they refused the light and the heat of the sun, and did not love to fecundate and produce fruits; and that only one plant receives the light of the sun with love, and would want to give to the sun all the fruits that the other plants do not want to produce. Would it not be fair that the sun, withdrawing its light from all the other plants, would pour all of its light and its heat upon that plant? We believe so. Now, what does not happen to the sun, because it does not have reason, can happen between the soul and Jesus.


don Marco
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