Twelfth Sunday in Ordinary Time - Year C - 19th June, 2016

Who Is Jesus for You?

This question has been asked for centuries and though there have been many responses, it is still a pertinent question today. Jesus asked His disciples: But who do you say that I am?

 

Like the disciples, we would perhaps have preferred to respond to a more general and easier question such as: Who do the people say that I am? The disciples could respond without having to commit themselves. But when the question was phrased: You, yes you, who do you say I am? It becomes a personal issue.

 

Peter had the courage to step up and respond and declare You are the Messiah, Son of God!

 

He had no idea of what being the Messiah, Son of God entailed. Jesus however wanted him to recognize the cross would be a central part of it, both for Jesus and for him.

 

Jesus reveals that he is not the type of Messiah expected by many; not a military leader come to liberate the Jews from their oppressors. He then presents to them the awesome prospect of his outright rejection and shameful death.

 

Jesus does not come as a knight in shining armour to vanquish the enemy. He comes rather as a servant prepared to pay the ultimate price for the sake of mankind and just as importantly he asks his followers to be prepared to travel the same road.

 

Whoever wishes to be my follower must renounce himself and take up his cross every day and follow me.

 

In following Jesus we are called to a life of service, but this is counter to the human drive in each one of us to look after “number one”. Renouncing ourselves for others will bring its own cross.

 

Standing for Christian values will lead to opposition. Those in power do not want their favourable status disrupted or changed and so are determined to oppose or persecute those who advocate equality, reconciliation and justice. The suffering of the cross is the result of persisting to love in a loveless world. This is what the followers of Jesus have to face day in day out.

 

To know Jesus Christ is to know the power of his victory on the cross where he defeated sin and conquered death through his resurrection. This is our journey also, cross, death and resurrection. What is the "cross" that you and I must take up each day? When my will clashes with God's will, then his will must be done. If we want to share in Christ's victory, then we must also take up our cross and follow him where he leads us.

 

But the cross is not the end of the story - not for Jesus, and not for us. On the other side of death is the fullness of life.

Fr Kevin O'Shea, C.M.