In Mark 8: 27-35, Jesus asks a question to his disciples, “But who do you say I am?” This divine question must be considered in our prayer, in our relationships, and in our world. We cannot skirt this prayer or brush it away.
Every day, we recommit our lives to the essentials in life. We love our families over again and we work diligently. We care for our bodies. We love life. However, an essential daily renewal is also a commitment to listening to Christ and following him. We also need to recommit ourselves to who he is for us. How would we answer Jesus who poses this question to us?
We cannot answer him until we come closer to him. We cannot keep him in a container of piety or indifference. This question opens us to the Trinity, to the divine life within us and in our world. However, we will never be able to answer him until we come to know him.
The gospel also reveals to us that following him will take us to places we would rather not go. We shall lose our lives, take up our cross, and find our hearts in his. This is a lifetime of prayer, reflection and answering his questions. Jesus’ question to us is at the heart of our conversion to his divine life within us. Our answer is much more than lip service. Our answer is life converted to him in every aspect of our humanity. His love invites and changes us. His divinity is an invitation for us to live beyond our own selfishness.
On September 15, the Church celebrates the Memorial of Mary, Our Lady of Sorrows. This is the feast day of the Congregation of Holy Cross. Our religions community has served this parish since 1984. Our Lady of Sorrows guides our spirituality and our prayer as a professed religious community. I invite you to pray for our brothers, our priests and our sisters this week as we again learn to imitate Mary’s posture toward suffering.
I have learned in my priesthood a deep reverence for Mary, Our Lady of Sorrows. This image pierces my heart. She stood next to the suffering of her son, Jesus, without controlling his pain or changing it. She held such mystery in her heart. She models for me a posture of such witness to the pain I behold in our parish and community. I cannot solve the pain and hardship in any life. However, I can learn to behold its mystery, to sit with the dying, and to listen to the grieving. Mary’s witness teaches me to overcome my false opinions about how life should be or how I think others ought to live. The real life of people shows me the beauty of God. Mary’s example of witness enables me the patience to hold up other’s unnamed and unredeemed pain.
So, in today’s gospel, Peter answers Jesus, “You are the Christ.” As we know, Peter also denied Jesus three times. We live in constant paradox. We know that answering Jesus’ question takes us many years of life, prayer, and sorting through the issues of life.
I believe Mary, Our Lady of Sorrows, helps us understand the mystery of Jesus’ passion, death, and resurrection. These are the events of our life of faith. These are the mysteries that enable us to come to know within our own hearts, that Jesus is the Christ. Oh, happy day.
He summoned the crowd with his disciples and said to them, “Whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself, take up his cross and follow me. For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and that of the gospel will save it.”
God give you peace,
Fr. Ron Raab, CSC, Pastor