1. Is 50:4-9
2.James 2:14-18
3. Mark8:27-35

No good Friday no Easter

From the gospel Jesus tells us, "no cross, no crown" There can be no Easter  without a Good Friday. What we have heard today from the gospel had been told by the prophets long before. Many of our sins of omission in life are the result of our fear to face up something , unsure what it will cost us. We want to get Easter and bypass good Friday, but this cannot be done. No cross no crown. There is a cost in Pentecost, living my Christian vocation involves the fact that I have to die to myself many times in the service of others.

The cost of discipleship involves facing challenges more especially to stand firm on what we ought to do. In the gospel today we are told that we should not avoid our responsibilities simply because this is what the cross is all about. It is unjust before God to avoid our responsibilities.

There were three young trees growing in the forest. They were young, healthy, and ambitious. They compared their dreams. one wanted to be part of the structure of the castle or a palace, so it would be a spectator in the lives of the high and mighty of society. The second wanted to end up as the mast in one of the tall ship sailing across the world with great sense of adventure. The third hoped to end up as part of some public monument, where the public would stop, admire and take photographs.

Years passed by, all were cut down. The first was chopped up, and parts of it were put together to form a manger for stable ( for animal keeping building) in Bethlehem. The second was cut down, and the trunk was scooped out to form a boat, which was launched on the sea of Galilee. The third was cut into sections, two of which were put together to form a cross on Calvary. Each had a unique and special part in the one great story of redemption.

Getting to know each other
It is my personal conviction that in life it is never easy to get to know someone really well. For example a husband and wife who have lived together for many years probably know each other's qualities and limitations and have learned to accept one another. The mystery behind human being has not yet been established. The number of People we know really is quite small. Even those we know well can continue to surprise us. We can discover a side to them that we never noticed before. We can suddenly be reminded of the extraordinary mystery of the other person, struck by the otherness of the person whom we have come to know and love. We realize more clearly that the other person is different to me and will always remain a mystery to me, even though I know them as well as I know anyone.

From our daily life experiences, it is obvious that if we were to ask someone who really  knew us, ' who do you say that I am?' and then asked that person to write a couple of paragraphs answering that question, we would certainly recognize  ourselves in what they would write. Yet it is likely that we would recognize that there are sides to us that are not present in the description. There is always so much more to us than someone's account of us, even the account of someone who knows us deeply. In the gospel Jesus asks his disciples two questions. The first was 'who do people say that I am?' the answers the disciples gave were fine in so far as they went ' John the Baptist, Elijah, one of the prophets.' Jesus was a prophetic figure who proclaimed God's word. Yet to say that Jesus a great prophet which is what even Moslems say of him does not go far enough. Jesus from the gospel scenario goes far by asking his disciples the more probing question, ' who do you say that I am?'

Peter's answer went beyond the answers people had given, ' You are the Christ, the Messiah.' Peter in these words was saying to Christ ' you are the Jewish Messiah, the one we have been waiting for,  the one whose coming the prophets foretold.' Yet in spite of the very good answer that Peter gave to Jesus' question, he really did not know what was the exact identity of Jesus, he did not know him at all. During that time the term' Messiah' meant different things to different people. Probably Peter thought of a Messiah in the tradition of King David who had established a kingdom, having defeated all Israel's enemies. May be according to the mind of Peter Jesus would do the same, driving the driving the Roman occupying power from the land. This was not kind of Messiah Jesus understood himself to be. This was the point of departure and return to Jesus that apart from driving Roman occupation from the land of Israel furthermore, he would end up on a Roman cross, crucified like a common criminal. Faithfulness to his mission would cost him his life.
When Jesus began to articulate this reality Peter rebuked Jesus. In fact this was not Peter's idea of a Messiah. Peter would not accept the otherness of Jesus, the mystery of Jesus proper identity. At the first moment as we have heard from the gospel Peter was comfortable telling Jesus who he was, but when Jesus began to reveal who he really was and what that entailed Peter became distinctly uncomfortable.

In our daily life we probably all find it easier telling people who they are than listening to people tell us who they really are. In particular we can struggle to hear the story of someone's brokenness especially if our picture of them has been one that does not  allow for that. Peter wasn't able to hear  Jesus talking about himself as a broken, failed and rejected Messiah. It was really after the resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ that Peter and the disciples were able to come to terms with such brokenness, such failure. 

We draw a lesson from this reading that it can be a struggle  for us to accept failure and brokenness in others and also to accept our own brokenness. Jesus accepted his own brokenness, and failure trusting in God to restore him and make him whole. The broken, failures of this world, flocked to him, and in his presence they came alive. We will more easily accept our own brokenness and failures if we know in our hearts that we too can approach the Lord as one who can make us whole. In our daily Eucharistic celebration, the Eucharist has been described as the bread broken for a broken people. The Lord who was broken on the cross for us is present in the Eucharist as our life-Giver. We approach the Lord in the Eucharist in our own brokenness asking to be made whole, and asking also for the grace to be able to sit with others in their brokenness.

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Chapisha Maoni