24th Sunday in Ordinary Time
15th Sunday After Pentecost
September 17, 2006 Catechetical Sunday
Reflections on the Readings by Dennis Hankins
Readings: Isaiah 50:5-9a; Psalm 116:1-9
James 2:14-18; Mark 8:27-35
Theme: A True Heart for Jesus
Faithfulness to the teaching of the church is a lifestyle.
The minute we embrace who Jesus is, we encounter a radical lifestyle. We know it is radical because Jesus said, “Whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me.”
There is not any notion in Jesus’ words that we will remain unchanged when we follow him. Somehow we see previewed here Jesus’ prayer, “Not my will, but thy will be done.” This is the great surrender; a surrender that births the life of Jesus in us. Truly this transformation is daily and should continue until our earthly end. We enter into greatness and true life when we abandon self-affection and self-exaltation. Therefore, perfect charity is the result of embracing the will of Jesus, first, last and always.
Do you wish to follow Jesus? Jesus invites us to take up our cross. The servant is not greater than his master. Jesus himself lived in the shadow of the cross until he hung from a cross for the salvation of the whole world. As the catechism states: Jesus enjoins his disciples to prefer him to everything and everyone, and bids them “ renounce all that [they have]” for his sake and that of the Gospel. (#2544) Loving your spouse and children, your church and your friends through the cross of Jesus will transform you, your family, your church and your friends. The only agenda we should have is whether what we do will please the Lord. Please remember that only one man ever hung between heaven and earth as the everlasting example of how to demonstrate you faith by your works.
Faithfulness in following Jesus is a lifestyle. We discover a rich lifestyle in following Jesus. It is he who ‘for our sakes became poor, that we through is poverty might be made rich.’ This is the one whom we follow. He who loves his life will lose it. There is no future in self-centeredness. But there is only a life of endless possibilities of faith, hope and love if we will but lose our life for Jesus’ sake and that of the Gospel. Jesus is Jesus. He is the Christ. Is there any other way to understand the future of mankind without him who was rejected by the elders, the chief priests, and scribes, and was killed, and rose after three days? May we follow him with all of our heart and never look back.
Let us pray: Dear Jesus, I want to follow you wherever you lead me. Teach me not to fear the path you lead me on. Whenever I wish to trust myself more than loving you, then ever hold me closer till I desire what you desire, love what you love, live as you lived. Amen.