Jesus is the Christ, the Messiah, the Anointed. To know and confess him so is to go beyond rumors; it is to live and die like him.
There are rumors that Jesus is John the Baptist who is back to life. Or is Elijah who is expected to come before the Day of the Lord comes (Mal 3, 23). Or one of the prophets.
It takes strength and courage, of course, to go against such rumors. And Peter proves to have, by grace, what it takes. For God reveals to the lowly these things that he hides from the wise.
So then, Peter hits the mark; he states that Jesus is the Christ. But right away Jesus warns the disciples to say this to no one. He gave the same warning after the healing of the deaf and mute. It is as if the Teacher thought that the disciples better not add to the rumors. After all, there is much that they have to learn before they can think as God does.
Yes, they leave much to be desired about their training, though we must say that theirs is like ours. That is to say, it is a lifelong task (see also these links). But, yes, they are, —as Mark sees them—, part of the confusion, not of clarity.
For those who belong to Jesus´ inner circle do not understand him, or his mission, better than others. They are of little or no faith (Mk 4, 40); they do not get what he teaches them (7, 18; 9, 32). Are they naive or stubborn? For they argue who is the greatest among them, and they are not ashamed to show their ambitions. As though Jesus has not spoken about how crucial the cross is. That they be lowly or like children, that they serve. Yes, there is more that Teacher has to show them.
No to rumors, but yes to knowing up close
There is much more that the we disciples should know so as not to belong to Satan. To be among Jesus’ own, cheap rumors and easy confessions are not enough for us. We have to know him in a person and in pain.
That is why we will carry our crosses as we walk with him to know him as the Christ. And his passion and death show best that he is it, says Mark.
Hence, to have faith is to welcome the cross, on which the body is given up and blood is shed. It is only through it that our liberation, salvation, from selfishness and greed that bring death, reaches its fullness. In it are hope and forgiveness for those who are naive, stubborn, and lack faith. The cross makes clear besides that conflict comes with doing good (SV.EN I:75). The wicked does beset the just one (Wis 2, 12). To live like Jesus means to die like Jesus (Phil 1, 21; SV.EN I:276; see this also).
There, at the foot of the cross, yes, is the best place to be (SV.EN I:155). If we do not run away from Jesus on the cross, it will be clear to us that he is the Son of God (Mk 15, 39).
Lord Jesus, let us be among your servants that do not turn back. Make us embrace you with a living faith that has works. For you are the first among the brothers and sisters who have no clothes, are hungry and thirsty. We shall thus know you not because of rumors, but up close, at the foot of the cross.
12 September 2021
24th Sunday in O.T. (B)
Is 50, 5-9a; Jas 2, 14-18; Mk 8, 27-35