Liturgy of the Sunday

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Twenty-fourth Sunday of Ordinary Time


First Reading

Isaiah 50,5-9

Lord Yahweh has opened my ear and I have not resisted, I have not turned away. I have offered my back to those who struck me, my cheeks to those who plucked my beard; I have not turned my face away from insult and spitting. Lord Yahweh comes to my help, this is why insult has not touched me, this is why I have set my face like flint and know that I shall not be put to shame. He who grants me saving justice is near! Who will bring a case against me? Let us appear in court together! Who has a case against me? Let him approach me! Look, Lord Yahweh is coming to my help! Who dares condemn me? Look at them, all falling apart like moth-eaten clothes!

Second Reading

James 2,14-18

How does it help, my brothers, when someone who has never done a single good act claims to have faith? Will that faith bring salvation? If one of the brothers or one of the sisters is in need of clothes and has not enough food to live on, and one of you says to them, 'I wish you well; keep yourself warm and eat plenty,' without giving them these bare necessities of life, then what good is that? In the same way faith, if good deeds do not go with it, is quite dead. But someone may say: So you have faith and I have good deeds? Show me this faith of yours without deeds, then! It is by my deeds that I will show you my faith.

Reading of the Gospel

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

Yesterday I was buried with Christ,
today I rise with you who are risen.
With you I was crucified;
remember me, Lord, in your kingdom.

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

Mark 8,27-35

Jesus and his disciples left for the villages round Caesarea Philippi. On the way he put this question to his disciples, 'Who do people say I am?' And they told him, 'John the Baptist, others Elijah, others again, one of the prophets.' 'But you,' he asked them, 'who do you say I am?' Peter spoke up and said to him, 'You are the Christ.' And he gave them strict orders not to tell anyone about him. Then he began to teach them that the Son of man was destined to suffer grievously, and to be rejected by the elders and the chief priests and the scribes, and to be put to death, and after three days to rise again; and he said all this quite openly. Then, taking him aside, Peter tried to rebuke him. But, turning and seeing his disciples, he rebuked Peter and said to him, 'Get behind me, Satan! You are thinking not as God thinks, but as human beings do.' He called the people and his disciples to him and said, 'If anyone wants to be a follower of mine, let him renounce himself and take up his cross and follow me. Anyone who wants to save his life will lose it; but anyone who loses his life for my sake, and for the sake of the gospel, will save it.

 

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

Yesterday I was buried with Christ,
today I rise with you who are risen.
With you I was crucified;
remember me, Lord, in your kingdom.

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

Homily

"But who is this Jesus of Nazareth?" No doubt that we are dealing with a fundamental issue; it was so in Jesus' time, and it does not cease to be so in our time. In Mark's Gospel, this question even occupies the "physical" centre of the narrative. We have come to the eighth of the sixteen chapters that comprise Mark's Gospel. The evangelist wants to suggest that from here begins Jesus' path towards the holy city. From this moment, Jesus "openly" speaks with the disciples with nothing can hold him back. This is why Jesus ignores the people's opinion and intentionally directs the question to the disciples, "But who do you say that I am?" Peter answers him openly and unequivocally, "You are the Messiah!" (Christ is the Greek translation of the Hebrew "Messiah," which literally means "one who is consecrated").
Jesus, at the words which acknowledge him as Messiah, begins to speak about his passion. He says that the Son of man must suffer much, be rejected by the elders of the people, by the high priests and scribes; then he will be killed and rise on the third day. Peter cannot accept the "end" that Jesus presented to them. And it is here that two concepts of the Messiah collide: that of Peter, connected to strength, to power that wins, and to the establishment of a political kingdom; the other one, that of Jesus, marked by humbling himself to the point of death which will nevertheless end in the resurrection.
The disciple who, speaking for the others, recognized Jesus as Messiah now becomes an adversary; Jesus cannot but reprove him in front of the others. With astonishing rawness, he tells Peter, "Get behind me, Satan!" These are words analogous to those we find in Matthew's Gospel at the end of the temptations in the desert. Calling the crowd who followed him, Jesus says that if anyone wants to become his disciple, he or she must deny himself or herself, take up his or her own cross and follow him. And he adds: thus whoever loses his or her life, really saves it. All this will be clarified on the day of Jesus' resurrection. But already now, also for us, the way of service to the Gospel and to the Lord is the way to fully live according to God.