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Doctrines & Morals

Faith demonstrated in action

Ish 50:5-9, Jam. 2:14-18, Mk 8:27-35. On this Twenty Fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time Year B, the Church invites us to reflect on the quality of our faith in our daily living. James in the second reading expresses his conviction that our relationship with God is revealed much more by how we behave than by what we say. He is rather dismissive of those who say "I have faith" and yet, as he puts it, have "never done a single good act." James implies that if our relationship with the Lord is of value, it has to find it expression in the ways we relate to others, especially to those who are in greater need than ourselves. Jesus would not have disagreed with James in this regard. He was critical of those who say "Lord, Lord" and, yet, do not do the will of His Heavenly Father. In the same way, today's Gospel suggests that words and what we mean by them are important in assessing the quality of our relationship with God. When Jesus asked His disciples: "Who do you say that I am?" Peter spoke up on behalf of other disciples: "You are the Messiah."

At one level, these words of Peter were perfectly acceptable. Jesus was the long-awaited Messiah. Yet, at another level, what Peter meant by these words, how Peter was thinking, was completely at odds with how Jesus was thinking. When Jesus went on to reveal that as Messiah He would also be the suffering and rejected "Son of Man", Peter rebuked Him. Peter forgot the the mission of the Messiah, which is the content of the prophetic voice of today's first reading: “I offered my back to those who struck me.” The followers and disciples of Jesus Christ chose to overlook and took to themselves images that suit their immediate need and condition of life. God is always bigger than the here and now. We must always be humble, never to confound our self-imaginations and creations for the movement of the Holy Spirit who reveals and who leads us to understand. Our way of thinking about God, our understanding of God, will invariably influence what we say and what we do. A distorted understanding of God can do great damage, as we know. Thinking correctly about God has always been a value within Christianity from the beginning. We are encouraged to bring our minds to bear on who God is, who Jesus is, on what it means to be a follower of Jesus. Our faith must always be a faith that seeks understanding. When it comes to God, we must remain learners. We need the light of the Holy Spirit if we are to think in God’s way and, out of that, to speak and act in God’s way.

May our knowledge and our personal relationships with God stimulate us always to a concrete implementation of the faith and values we profess! Amen!! Good morning and happy Sunday!!!

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