Twenty-fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time
September 12, 2021
We concluded last Sunday’s Liturgy of The Word with a resounding endorsement of Jesus:
He does all things well!
The double-healing miracle of restoring a person’s hearing and speech…earned The Lord the kind of “approval ratings” that politicians yearn for. So the exchange between Jesus and His leading advisor reported by Mark in this week’s Gospel is especially jarring.
GET BEHIND ME SATAN!!
What we have here is much more than a clash in strategies between Jesus and His inner circle. At the risk of embarrassing, or even alienating, Peter, the Lord is making a definitive statement.
Salvation is not political
The Messiah is not a title or office won through the popular vote.
Rather, it is a “once, and for all time” promise fulfilled by our Creator. AS PROMISED, Jesus, The Son of God…The Christ…The Messiah…was sent to heal creation from the ravages of sin.
The Lord’s mission was to voice the cosmic challenge to all persons and all things…all beliefs and practices…all thoughts and attitudes that are contrary to the will and ways of The Father. And, in order to empower people of good will to meet the challenge and to “think like God” when The Messiah’s time on earth came to an end, He sent the Holy Spirit to dwell among us.
In accomplishing His mission, it can truly be said that:
He (did) all things well!
But as theologian Monika Hellwig points out:
Every challenge carries some pain and demands some renunciations.
For the Messiah, Who challenged the world to “turn away from sin and be faithful to the Gospel,” the pain was unparalleled. He was to suffer greatly…endure rejection…and be brutally murdered.
The renunciation for Jesus…was worldly ambition.
With that one powerful word, Jesus OPENED the ears and the mouth of a disabled man…and the cure was immediate. The miracle we witness this week was to OPEN THE MINDS of His disciples. But the response was not “immediate.”
Even after this “definitive statement,” the confusion, fear, doubt, denial, and even betrayal continued. It wasn’t until Easter morning that The Lord’s followers began to, ever so slowly, open their minds and their hearts to the meaning of Christian discipleship.
Be open to what God is asking of you. Pray for the graces to meet the challenge in spite of the inevitable “pain, demands, and renunciations” that come with living the Gospel. And don’t become discouraged if you are not immediately successful. Salvation is a slow-moving process.
On the other hand, should you reach a point where you think:
I HAVE done all things well!
It’s time to ask yourself:
Now, how can I do things even better?