Fr. Peter Coughlan Isaiah 50, 5-9: James 2, 1448: Mark 8, 27-35
Who is Jesus and what does following him mean? These are the key questions that St. Mark was concerned with answering when he wrote his Gospel.
Today's passage lies at the very heart of Mark's Gospel and gives us a good part of his answer to that question.
We already believe we know the answer to the question: Who is Jesus? When we hear the reading this Sunday, we could ask ourselves whether we have really grasped the meaning of who he was arid what he did. Mark was intent on teaching the meaning of what was really happening in the events of Jesus' life and work.
As we reflect upon what was happening in Jesus' life, we should be wary of slick, glib answers that drop into a mental pigeon-hole without ever bringing that deeper understanding which affects the way we live and the sort of people we become.
The passage says: "lie began to teach them that the Son of Man was destined to suffer grievously, to be rejected by the elders and the chief priests and the scribes, and to be put to death, and after three days to rise again."
The understanding Mark is concerned with conveying to us is that if we have 1).e.e.p,ablc.. 1O see Jesus, even in his suffering and humiliation, as the Christ, then we must gradually realise that to be his disciples means sharing his life.
It also means that we approach the prospect of suffering and death — which in one way or another will affect us all — with the same confidence in the Father's love as Jesus did.
If Jesus encountered opposition, suffering and death, then there is no reason for thinking that the lot of his disciples will he so different. But the words of this Sunday's responsorial psalm express the hope we also share with him, a hope sustained by the fact of his Resurrection: "He has.kept my soul from death, my eyes from tears and my feet from stumbling. I will walk in the presence of the Lord in the land of the living."