12TH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME – C
Jesus’ question: “Who do you say that I am?” is confronting the way it was to His disciples as it is for us today. It was not meant to gather information like the way we get for political polls or popularity surveys. It was neither a test to measure up cognitive knowledge the people and the disciples had about Jesus.
The people had different understanding of who Jesus was based on the way they perceived Him to be: as John the Baptist, Elijah or one of the prophets. But when the question was addressed to the disciples in a more personal way, it was Peter who spoke on behalf of the band: The Messiah of God!” Peter of course did not understand what he had just spoken because it was a direct revelation from God the Father to him otherwise he was completely innocent of the meaning of his words. Although there was a very strong messianic longing during that time, the people had a different understanding of what the Christ would be. The disciples were no different from the rest of the Israelites in longing for a political messiah who would give them freedom from the Roman rule and bring an end to their poverty. Jesus had to dispel that wrong notion by explaining to them that the Christ and the cross are one, that the Messiah would bring about a different salvation through His death and resurrection.
To those who were following Him, Jesus laid down the cost of discipleship: to embrace a life of self-denial and the cross. Take it or leave it!
Fulton Sheen said that the West wants a Christ without the cross while the East wants a cross without Christ. With the affluence of the West, who would want to embrace the suffering and pain of the cross? With the poverty of the East, who would want to follow a poor Christ? Where do we stand here?
It is easy to profess our faith in Christ but when we are confronted with the reality of the cross in its different forms, that is another story. Like Peter, we may claim Jesus as our Savior, Messiah and Lord which is as easy as eating pie, but what if Jesus brings us to the cross to be crucified with Him? Some may protest: “But why would He do that? If God loves me why should I be in pain?” Nobody really knows why but we continue to trust and believe in God even if we do not understand.
One is certain in the mystery of the cross: the heart of God bleeds with us when we are in pain and if we are united with Him, He will make sure that our suffering will not go to waste. When our struggles and hardships are sanctified in the hands of God they become sacrifice!
“We are the victims offering our blood
Poured forth as a living libation
Until it flows to the sea of eternity
Surrendered lives in the pool of oblation
Where we become just one drop of sacrifice
In the grandeur of the sacred waters…..”
(The Friendship River, 2010)