Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Taking Jesus seriously

by José Antonio Pagola (English translation by Rebel Girl)
Buenas Noticias: Blog de Jose Antonio Pagola
September 10, 2012

Mark 8: 27-35

The Caesarea Philippi episode is central in the Gospel of Mark. After they had lived with him for a time, Jesus asks his disciples a decisive question, "Who do you say that I am?". On behalf of all, Peter answers without hesitating, "You are the Messiah." Finally, it seems like everything is clear. Jesus is the Messiah sent by God and the disciples are following him to collaborate with him.

Jesus knows that's not how it is. They haven't yet learned something very important. It's easy to confess Jesus in words, but they still don't know what it means to follow him closely, sharing his plan and his fate. Mark says that Jesus "began to teach them." It isn't just another teaching, but something fundamental that the disciples will have to assimilate little by little.

From the start he speaks to them "completely openly". He doesn't want to hide anything from them. They have to know that suffering will always accompany him in his task of opening the way to the Kingdom of God. In the end, he will be condemned by the religious leaders and die through violent execution. Only when he resurrects, will it be seen that God is with him.

Peter rebels against what he's hearing. His reaction is incredible. He takes Jesus aside with him to "rebuke him." He had been the first to confess him as the Messiah. Now he's the first to reject him. He wants to make Jesus understand that what he's saying is absurd. He isn't willing for him to follow this path. Jesus has to change this way of thinking.

Jesus reacts with unknown harshness. Suddenly he sees in Peter the features of Satan, the tempter in the desert who seeks to separate people from the will of God. He turns to face the disciples and literally rebukes Peter with these words: "Get thee behind me, Satan!" -- go back to your place as a disciple. Stop tempting me. "You are thinking as men do, not as God does."

Then he calls the people and his disciples to listen well to his words. He will repeat them on several occasions. They are never to forget them. "Whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me."

Following Jesus isn't an obligation. It's a free decision for each one. But we have to take Jesus seriously. Facile confessions aren't enough. If we want to follow him in his exciting endeavour of building a more humane, worthy, and joyful world, we have to be willing to do two things.

First, renounce projects and plans that are contrary to the Kingdom of God. Second, accept the suffering that may come to us for following Jesus and identifying with his cause.

1 comment:

  1. It is said that the claim about the legality statement from the Catholic Church, saying that is the real church founded by Jesus (¿?) is based in the statement of Jesus to Peter:”You are the rock upon which I will seat (Foundation) my church”
    Well…Jesus knows Peter more that any one else. He, Peter does not come across as a very enlightened man and very understanding of the deep meaning and spiritual content of the teachings.
    Still, he is stubborn and undeterred…at least after Pentecost. Before…he was somehow arrogant and a bit o more than a bit scare of the consequences of following Jesus when things turned dire.
    Peter’s caution and attitude, seems to be a bit like the one of Proximo, the slave owner in the movie Gladiator. (I am just an entertainer…he makes me rich)
    But Peter had in his heart the seed that Jesus knew was there and at the end, like Proximo…he dies for the right cause.
    He preaches the gospel, is stubborn and undeterred even thou he may not understand the full meaning and transcendentally of the lessons he carries and teaches.
    He has arguments with Paul…he wants things done in a certain way…he stumbles…he falls some times but he goes on…he is the rock that tumbles and rolls along the path, but he continues in the path until it claims his life.
    He, Peter was one of the chosen because Jesus knew that he would be relentless in his mission once he believed in it. He had the right stuff for the job.
    Let us all die for Christ, if not in a cross as Peter did, let us die as man and woman and be born as servants of the Lord on Earth. This is what Pagola is saying here.