|The Thinker by Rodin|
Homily for the Twenty-fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time
(Scriptures for today's Mass)
Audio for homily
If you ask the question, “What’s Jesus’ last name?”
some folks might say, “Well, it must be ‘Christ’ -- Jesus Christ.”
But – that’s not the right answer.
Jesus would have been known to those around him as
“Jesus bar-Joseph” or “Jesus, the son of Joseph.”
We call him “Jesus Christ” because of what the word “Christ” means:
it comes from the Greek, “kristos” which means “anointed.”
And “kristos” is the Greek expression of the Hebrew word, “messiah.”
That’s why you sometimes hear the Lord called, “Jesus, the Christ,”
meaning: “Jesus, the Anointed one,” the promised one, the Messiah.
In the gospel here Jesus doesn’t quiz his disciples about his last name
but he does ask them, “Who do people say I that I am?”
And it’s Peter who has the right answer, “You are the Christ.”
His reply is not only correct – it’s powerful.
In calling Jesus “the Christ,” the Anointed, he calls him the Messiah.
And then Jesus tells his friends
just what kind of Messiah he’s going to be:
a Messiah who will be rejected, who will suffer
who will be put to death – and then rise of the third day.
It’s the suffering/rejection/dying part that leads Peter to rebuke Jesus:
“Jesus, why are you talking like this?
Don't you see how you’re bringing everybody down?”
But then Jesus rebukes Peter and tells him,
“You’re not thinking the way God thinks.
You’re thinking like everybody else does.”
Those words ring as true this morning
as they did some 2000 years ago.
The clear implication is that Jesus wants, Jesus expects us
to think the way God thinks.
So that gives rise to some serious questions!
• How does God think about things?
• How can I know how God thinks?
• Do I turn to the scriptures and the Church to discover
how God thinks about things?
• Are there differences between how God thinks about things
and how I think about them?
• Does God’s thinking carry any more weight in my life
than my own thinking?
• Have I ever let how God thinks override my own thinking?
• Whose thoughts do I believe to be more trustworthy:
God’s or mine?
These aren’t easy questions but they’re certainly important questions
for us who call ourselves Christians:
followers of Jesus, the Christ, the Anointed one.
And it would be timely to consider
the particular and specific importance these questions have for us
as we prepare to elect men and women to public office,
candidates whom we choose to support precisely on account
of what they think and how they think.
As Christians making political decisions will we try to discern
how God thinks about the issues before us?
Will we try to think as God does
or be satisfied with thinking as everyone else does?
None of these questions is easily answered
nor should we jump quickly to what we think the answers might be.
If we’re serious about discerning how God thinks
we'll need to set aside some serious time for reflection and prayer.
Jesus, in this same gospel, points us in the right direction here.
He tells us that if we want to know how God thinks
we’d do well to study the Cross:
the Cross on which he suffered and died
and the cross each of us carries in our lives.
If indeed we’re thinking as God does (and not just like everybody else)
then we can expect a share of rejection and suffering and loss
and some dying to ourselves for the sake of others.
If we want to think as God thinks,
we’ll need to embrace whatever cross is ours,
as heavy and difficult as it might be,
as Jesus embraced his Cross for us.
If we find ourselves
with no cross to bear on account of our faith's demands,
it’s likely that we’re thinking like everybody else
and not as God does.
Jesus embraced his Cross and gave his life for us,
and shares that life with us now in the sacrifice of this altar:
in his Body and Blood, in the Bread and Cup of the Eucharist.
May we who seek to think and to love as God does
be nourished here with the strength we need
to take up our cross and lay down our lives
in serving the Lord and our neighbor.
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