By Sr. Marguerite Kelly, mfic

In last-week’s Gospel, Jesus cured a person from not being able to hear or speak. The next verses after that story, relate a curing of a person from not being able to see. Ears to hear and eyes to see is the redemptive mission of Jesus. What is to be heard and seen is Jesus as The Redeemer.

Our Gospel today follows immediately after these two physical, but deeper-than-that miracles. Peter and the other disciples are going to have their ears and eyes checked. How have they heard and seen Jesus. Maybe they receive Him as a wonder-worker, quite a magic man. Jesus asks them, as they walk along, about what they have heard “on the street” about him. What are others saying, how have they heard and seen him?

The disciples make their reports about who people are saying He is. Then the big one is directed: how do they know Him? Peter’s answer becomes a highpoint in Mark’s presentation of the life and mission of Jesus. Peter says, for all those who have heard and seen Jesus through the pages of the Gospel up to this point, Jesus is the Christ! No one has publicly said this until right here and the seven and one half chapters of miracles, parables, teachings, and travels have slowly brought Peter and Mark’s readers to this declaration of faith.

The miracles and teachings continue immediately; Jesus indicates that His being the Christ will result in His suffering and death. Peter has more learning to do and he gets a bit of a scolding for his not wanting Jesus to continue His being such a “suffering Servant” of God. This tension forms a further teaching for those who, by reading the whole Gospel, also affirm that Jesus is the Christ. There are consequences to being a follower. Jesus is saying that He indeed is the Christ and will suffer with that and says, as we say, “Follow me?” Then He says, not as a question, but an invitation, “Follow me!” The paradoxical tension is between winning and losing. Jesus predicts His winning ultimately by His losing and those who wish to win with Him will have to deny their desires and need to win.

Collaborative Ministry Larry Gillick, SJ

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