24th Sunday in Ordinary Time Year B (Isaiah 50:5-9a James 2:14-18 Mark 8:27-35)
Theme: Take Up Your Cross and Follow Me
The readings we have for this Sunday, call us to action in our practice of the Christian faith. The message from the prophet Isaiah in today’s first reading should strengthen our faith and help us to resolve to be true followers of Christ. This stems from the fact that amidst the challenges and difficulties of life that we may encounter, God will never turn his back on us. He will rather support us and make us victorious at the end. The challenges we encounter on our journey of faith, is part of the package of a true Christian living and we cannot totally avoid it. What make the difference from one person to another is our disposition and the way we respond to them. This becomes more meaningful when we take into consideration the assertion of Jesus in today’s gospel. He said, we have to deny ourselves, take up our cross and follow him. The call to discipleship is not a bed of roses; it includes both joy and pains.
Jesus uses every opportunity to teach his followers. He begins by finding out whether his Apostles truly knew who he was, and Peter answered correctly that he was the Christ; and he used the opportunity to enlighten them about his mission. In the same way, Jesus is asking you and I today, who is he to you? Do you have any experiential knowledge of who Jesus is to you? This will help us to know how to relate with him. For some of us, he is a healer, provider, protector and a friend. Whatever point we relate with him, we will discover that his teaching to his Apostles in today’s gospel is very important. Our friendship with him entails joy, pain, happiness and sorrows. But the good news is that we will come out victorious at the end of our earthly pilgrimage, just like Jesus ended up. However, to achieve our goal, we must obey Jesus by denying ourselves, take up our cross and follow him. That way we will be able to save our lives, by losing it as a result of our discipleship.
The admonition of St. James in the second reading for this Sunday should be taken seriously. Faith without works is dead. We live in an age when people want to see harmony between our faith and daily living. We must live out in our lives the faith that we profess. At all times, our words must harmonize with our actions if we truly want to make any positive impact in the lives of all those who encounter us in our journey of faith. When we have faith without good works to accompany it, we will make little or no impact in the lives of those around us. It is better to show our faith in God through our actions and the good work that we do in our daily lives. The quality of our witnessing is greatly seen through our actions and daily lives.
We are all encouraged in our liturgy today to follow the admonitions from our readings and embrace the reality of our faith as Christians and children of God. May God grant us the grace to deny ourselves, carry the cross and follow him daily. Peace be with you.