“Obedience, fasting, and prayer are laughed at, yet only through them lies the way to real true freedom. I cut off my superfluous and unnecessary desires, I subdue my proud and wanton will and chastise it with obedience, and with God's help I attain freedom of spirit and with it spiritual joy.” ― Fyodor Dostoyevsky, The Brothers Karamazov
Gospel Text: (LK 9:18-22)
Once when Jesus was praying in solitude,
and the disciples were with him,
he asked them, “Who do the crowds say that I am?”
They said in reply, “John the Baptist; others, Elijah;
still others, ‘One of the ancient prophets has arisen.’”
Then he said to them, “But who do you say that I am?”
Peter said in reply, “The Christ of God.”
He rebuked them and directed them not to tell this to anyone.
He said, “The Son of Man must suffer greatly
and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests, and the scribes,
and be killed and on the third day be raised.”
In today’s Gospel reading, Jesus first asks His disciples what the people think of Him; who were they saying he was. The disciples give their answers, and then Jesus asks them, “But who do you say that I am?” And Peter, who so often gets it wrong, gets it right. He says to Jesus, “The Messiah of God.” And after Jesus warns them not to tell this to anyone, He then says, “The Son of Man must suffer greatly and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests, and the scribes, and be killed and on the third day be raised.”
In acknowledging Peter’s confession of Him as the Messiah, Jesus then tells them how He will be the Messiah: neither by military conquest nor by getting rid of corrupt leaders, but by sacrifice, even to the point of death, followed by resurrection.
For me, the Gospel readings for the last few days have highlighted the difference between the wisdom of the world and the wisdom of the Gospel, and we see this once again in today’s reading. That, I think, is one of the reasons Jesus doesn’t want the apostles to tell anyone that he was the Messiah. The people were expecting a different kind of Messiah, and even the apostles had trouble understanding what was going to occur.
Understanding Jesus’ death on the Cross as an act of redemption helps us understand that God does not promise to remove all our difficulties, but instead, God promises us that He will get us through to the other side. Jesus did not only predict His Passion and Death, but also His Resurrection!
Can we live in hope, and thereby tell the world who we say Jesus is by the life we lead day to day?