REFLECTION OF LOVE FOR SUNDAY SEPTEMBER 12
Mark 8: 27-38
Jesus and his disciples went on to the villages around Caesarea Philippi. On the way he asked them, “Who do people say I am?”
They replied, “Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, one of the prophets.”
“But what about you?” he asked. “Who do you say I am?”
Peter answered, “You are the Messiah.”
Jesus warned them not to tell anyone about him.
He then began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests and the teachers of the law, and that he must be
killed and after three days rise again. He spoke plainly about this, and Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him.
But when Jesus turned and looked at his disciples, he rebuked Peter. “Get behind me, Satan!” he said. “You do not have in mind the concerns of God, but merely human concerns.”
Then he called the crowd to him along with his disciples and said: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me and for the gospel will save it. What good is it for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul? Or what can anyone give in exchange for their soul? If anyone is ashamed of me and my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, the Son of Man will be ashamed of them when he comes in his Father’s glory with the holy angels.”
Martha is a lifelong Episcopalian and has been coming to Ascension since 2009 with her husband, Jon Dunfee, and her children, Ciara and Aidan Dunfee. She is a commercial real estate attorney and former chemist, does The New York Times Spelling Bee every day, and plays too much Pokémon Go.
TAKE UP YOUR CROSS
By Martha Wach
In today’s Gospel reading, Mark 8:27-38, which immediately follows the stories of the loaves and fishes and the healing of the blind man of Bethsaida, there’s a lot going on. At the beginning, Jesus almost seems to be teasing the disciples, when Jesus asks them who they think Jesus is. To me, it reads like Jesus is fishing for a compliment. “Who am I?” he asks. “That’s right, I’m the Messiah. Don’t tell anyone.” (My husband disagrees with this interpretation, by the way, and thinks Jesus is being humble and doesn’t want the disciples to be calling out to everyone who Jesus is. But this is my reflection, so,….)
But then the text turns more serious when Jesus starts talking about what he will be facing: rejection, death, and resurrection. Peter’s response sounds like that of someone who would say, “No, no, don’t talk like that,” when told by a family member, or by a respected member of the friend group, that something bad is happening medically or financially. A denier who does not want to believe that something bad will (or could) happen and also does not want to deal with it. If Jesus is so awesome, how could he be rejected and killed? And if he could, what does that mean for Peter?
Jesus responds, understandably irritated, that Peter is missing the point and is only focused on trying to avoid physical pain and social status and needs to focus on the bigger picture. Yes, there will be pain, but it will be followed by resurrection. An awful, horrible, but short-lived pain followed by a life-changing, world-changing, resurrection.
And then we get to the upshot of the passage: “What good is it for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul?” (Mark 8:36, NIV) On the other hand, who wants to follow, make a sacrifice to follow, be rejected upon following? Those who want to interact with and respect all in this world, and to stop thinking only of themselves, that’s who. Those who want to, in the words of John Lewis, make “good trouble.” And in so doing, find the kingdom of heaven.
Questions for Reflection:
1. How can you broaden your world and your participation in it?
2. How can your contribution help those around you?