Jesus is the messiah who willingly suffers and dies for our sake, to save us. Here is how we can follow him
Homily for the Twenty-fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time, Sunday, September 16th, 2018
Isaiah 50:4-9; Psalm 116:1-9; James 2:14-18 & Mark 8:27-35
By Father Scott Karnik
Today’s readings point to Jesus Christ as the Son of God, the Messiah, and the one who suffers, dies, and rises again to save us and give us eternal life. We know that. Isaiah’s reading today is one of the Suffering Servant songs. This servant speaks about himself. He says he gives his back “to those who beat me,…(Isaiah 50:6)…”my face I did not shield from buffets and spitting”(Isaiah 50:6). This servant has obediently accepted God’s call and will carry it out. Bible commentators say this is a prophecy of Jesus Christ and His Passion. And Jesus teaches this to His disciples and to us today. He says in St. Mark’s gospel, “He began to teach them that the Son of Man had to suffer much, be rejected by the elders, the chief priest, and the scribes, be put to death, and rise three days later”(Mark 8:31). And then St. Mark writes, “He said these things quite openly”(Mark 8:32). We know this. It is what Jesus connects to this that is important. Jesus “summoned the crowd with his disciples and said to them:…(Mark 8:34). Jesus is speaking to us, today, His followers. We must imitate Jesus in His sufferings and Passion. We must reflect Him in ourselves. How do we do that?
There is an answer in today’s first reading from Isaiah. It’s in the first sentence. “The Lord God opens my ear that I may hear; and I have not rebelled, have not turned back”(Isaiah 50:4-5). Jesus wants us to hear His teachings, obey them, and persevere in obedience. First, we must listen to His words and teachings and those of His Church. For us, to hear means “to gain knowledge of by hearing; to learn; to listen to with attention; to heed; to entertain the idea”(of something that is said). Of course we can hear, figuratively by reading and praying too. We hear with a humble, uplifted heart to God’s Words in Sacred Scripture here at Mass. We have to be willing to come here to hear with an uplifted heart. Second, Isaiah’s prophecy says “And I have not rebelled,…(Isaiah 50:5). The Suffering Servant, Jesus, obeys. To obey means “to follow the commands or guidance of; to comply with; to execute.” We too must obediently follow Jesus’s vocation of denying ourselves, picking up our crosses, daily, and following Him. Either we must relinquish ourselves totally to the suffering Messiah that we follow, or make ourselves susceptible to an unfavorable judgment. We must obey and lose our lives for Jesus’s sake and the sake of the gospel. We too must suffer and carry Jesus’s Cross to Calvary. And third, Isaiah writes this phrase: “…have not turned back”(Isaiah 50:5). The Suffering Servant accepts his divine vocation. He perseveres in it. So do we. To persevere means “to keep at something in spite of difficulties, opposition, or discouragement.” Jesus teaches that He has a dual destiny. “The Son of Man” must suffer and be glorified later. St. Peter and the other disciples fail to understand the association of suffering and death Jesus must undergo in His office of Messiah. We have difficulty doing the same thing. It requires humility and humility is a bad word in today’s world.
All of this is important because there is no other way to conform to Jesus and receive the salvation He offers us. It really is His Way or the highway. This is important for us because in our own church, in our own faith, there are people who say they’re Catholic but they subscribe to the way of the (sinful) world. That is first for them. They pay lip service to their faith and place their hearts elsewhere. They are not to be followed or imitated. Jesus is to be followed. His way is the only way. To follow Jesus we must deny ourselves, pick up our cross daily, and follow Him through hearing, obeying, and persevering to the bitter end, which leads to the glorious salvation and life which will never end.
February 12, 2017
October 23, 2016
October 2, 2016