Hostility Between the Serpent and Human Beings

by | Sep 11, 2018 | Formation, Reflections

Jesus is the Christ.  His mission is to bring the Good News to the poor.  He does not turn back in the face of hostility.

After the disciples’ spokesman’s right confession that Jesus is the Christ, the latter warns them not to tell anyone about him.  That’s because he knows that he is up against people’s misconception about the Messiah as a political liberator.  Understandably, it is the hostility of the Romans that has given rise to the misconception.

Jesus’ warning turns out reasonable; the disciples themselves can spread wrong ideas.  This is clear from Peter’s reaction to Jesus’ prediction of his passion, death and resurrection.  The disciple, displaying hostility to the idea of a suffering Messiah, takes the Teacher aside to rebuke him.

But Jesus turns around and, looking at his disciples, returns the rebuke.  He calls Peter Satan, the tempter who only seeks to take Jesus away from his mission.  On display again is the hostility of the old serpent.

Then Jesus reaffirms right away his teaching.  One can imagine that he shocks the crowd and his disciples even more, for there is mention of the cross.  Those who seek to throw out the Romans find the cross loathsome.  It shows that the hostility of the Romans has reached its height.

And now the one they think is the Messiah teaches that his followers will have to carry their cross!  No, he’s not rubbing it in the face of those who think not as God does.  Rather, he wants to highlight the fundamental importance of this teaching.

The Word made flesh has to suffer and so enter into his glory.  He cannot avoid the devil’s hostility.

The Son of God willed to become human, which means he also freely chose not to have any choice.  Jesus has no choice but be part of the hostility between evil and human beings.

And one should never underestimate the power of evil to foster injustice and greed.  One has only to gaze on Jesus on the cross.  He is the fate in person of those who bring the Good News to those who hunger and thirst for righteousness.

Disciples have to be clear on this before deciding to follow Jesus to the giving up of the body and the shedding of blood.  Self-giving, not possessing, is the only way to break the cycle of hostility.

Indeed, in order to die as Jesus Christ, we must live as Jesus Christ (SV.EN I:276).  Otherwise, our confession of him would be as glib as the statement of someone who only has words, and no deeds, for a needy brother or sister.

Lord Jesus, help the poor, so that we may clearly see that your cross won over Satan’s hostility.

16 September 2018
24th Sunday in O.T. (B)
Is 50, 5-9a; Jas 2, 14-18; Mk 8, 27-35


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