Twenty-Fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Isaiah 50:5-9a, Psalm 116:1-2, 3-4, 5-6, 8-9, James 2:14-18, &
There is a little symbol on my computer and yours that can make everything centered on the page. The word 'center' is genuinely 'central' in our culture. There are Centering Prayers and an array of stores located within Shopping Centers, Home Centers, Appliance Centers. Our homes may have Entertainment Centers to house our TVs, game consoles, and speakers.
Again today, we hear Isaiah speak of how centered the Messiah will be. He will continue to trust the Lord even as he is beaten and mocked and felt no shame because he pictured the Messiah as having heard him, allowing him to stay focused and not turn back. This reading is part of what we hear as the First Reading for Palm Sunday. It is a prediction of the treatment which Jesus, as Messiah, will experience. We can picture this prophecy fulfilled as He is scourged and spat upon, and He stays faithful. I suspect that each of us is a Faith Center or a Trust Center when we live these words that close the reading from Isaiah; "See, the Lord God is my help; who will prove me wrong?"
Today's Gospel narrative is the high point of the big secret. Up to this point in Mark's account, the disciples have marveled at Jesus' ability to calm storms, feed the multitudes, heal the sick and speak with authority, yet they haven't directly as Jesus who they know Him to be. Once they came out and declared themselves, that would center their focus and, consequently, the rest of their lives.
It is an intimate time, and Jesus asks them first about what others might be thinking about Him. After they give their report, Jesus puts the big question to them, "But who do you say that I am?" Peter answers, "You are the Christ." With these words, we learn that Peter is "centered" in his faith. However, when we hear him next, Peter will have lost his focus and trust.
Our Lord begins telling His faith-centered followers that as Messiah, as the Christ, He will have to suffer rejection and be killed. Peter, thrown by these words, takes Jesus aside and tries to reestablish reason in Jesus' mind and peace in the hearts of His followers. He had their trust.
Friends, God wants nothing more from us than to trust His love and care of us. The cross, which Jesus is center upon and walk of trust towards it, uncenters us, as it did to Peter. Our extraordinary comfort is that God, who wants us to trust in Him and place Him at the center of our lives, is also gracious and forgiving when we lose our focus or trust. To stay centered on Him is our course; however, experience being unfocused is our cross.
Question of the Day: How much do you value the mercy of God?
Prayer: "May I never boast except in the cross of our Lord through which the world has been crucified to me and I to the world."