The reading from Isaiah is familiar. It sounds as if Isaiah is talking about Jesus and his pending suffering. It is good to look at Old Testament readings through our understanding of what is yet to come. But sometimes it is good to know a little more about this author. For example, Isaiah may have been talking about himself. Most of prophets were martyred. Isaiah was sawn in two. When he was prophesying, he knew people were angry and plotting his murder. Or Isaiah could have been speaking about Jeremiah. Jeremiah is recognized as someone very much like Jesus. Knowing this adds some context to people reading today. It is probably good to see in the prophecy what happened to Jesus. Understanding this part of the prophecy is only part of prophecy. The last line is just as important. “The Lord is my help.” There is assurance that even in the worst of times or the most difficult of sufferings, God is there. We can depend on Him.
Who do you say I am? Jesus asks His disciples. Jesus can ask us the same question today. Who do you say Jesus is? Answers will vary. Maybe you think of Jesus as a healer, even a prophet, or a miracle worker. God inspired Peter to say, “You are the Christ, the Son of God!” Would it not be great to say the same thing? But the situation changes quickly. Just like in Isaiah, there are phrases we remember. And the phrase most people remember is Jesus saying to Peter, “Get behind me Satan.” How terrible it would be to hear Jesus say that to you or me. We tend to focus on negative comments or statements made to us in a critical fashion. No likes criticism. And because Jesus’ statement has impacted our emotions, we miss the most critical line which comes next. “You are thinking not as God does, but as human beings do.” This is one of the major themes of Mark’s gospel. To teach us to think as God does, but not as we do.
The disciples have been with Jesus for some time, and they are amazed with the miracles and His teaching. God has touched their hearts and they are beginning to realize who Jesus is. They would have heard of Jesus’ baptism and the voice from heaven saying, “This my beloved Son in whom I am well pleased.” Now Jesus is preparing them for His Passion and Resurrection. Jesus has shown the disciples His humanity, but soon will come the Transfiguration where they will also see His divinity. It will still be difficult to see Jesus fully human and fully divine, but as we have been discussing, these teachings will be remembered. And one day we too will say “You are the Christ, the Son of God.” but it will mean so much more than when Peter says it.
Remember, the disciples are still learning, but for us we look to the words in the second reading. “I will demonstrate my faith to you from my works.” Knowing who Jesus is should prompt us to show our faith to others through the works we do. People should know we are Christian, that we are Catholic by the way we live our lives. Everything we do should point to Jesus.
May the Lord bless you in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen