TWENTY-FOURTH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY
Love Christ Ardently – Let Faith and Action
First Reading ( Is 50:5-9 ):
With the Lord's support we need not fear disgrace
Second Reading ( Jas 2:14-18 ) : Faith without works is dead
Gospel ( Mk 8:27-35 ): Peter acknowledges the Lord as Messiah First
prediction of the Passion and Resurrection
-“To be fond of learning is near to knowledge, to practice vigorously
is near magnanimity, to acknowledge shame is near to energy.”(1)
-“Only with practice is there true knowledge.”(2)
Jesus asked his disciples, “Who do people
say that I am?” And they answered him, “John the Baptist; and others,
Elijah; and still others, one of the prophets.” He asked them, “But
who do you say that I am?” Peter answered him, “You are the Messiah.”
( Mk 8:27-29 )
The disciples answered Jesus' question politely and with the words
people with conviction had said about Jesus. But at the time, there
were others who had different comments and criticisms about Jesus. Some
said , “Is not this the carpenter's son?”
( See Mt 13:55 ). What good is to be found in someone who does manual
labor? Some said he was a person who ‘liked to drink and eat and is
a friend of sinners.’ In other words, he was not a socially prominent
person, or from the upper classes nor a leader in society; he is only
suitable to be with people of the lower classes.
Nathanael (also called Bartholomew) later became an apostle. When he
first met this Jesus from Nazareth, he did not see anything extraordinary
about him. His rather scornful comment was, “Can
anything good come out of Nazareth?” ( Jn 1:46 ) How
could anyone with such a poor background be of any great worth? Even
more derogatory, some said Jesus consorted with the devil because his
power to cast out devils came from Beelzebub, the ‘Prince of Devils.’
In the hearts and minds of people, each one judges Jesus differently.
Some like him very much, others strongly dislike him. He is really a
very controversial person, thus fulfilling Simeon's prophecy, “This
child is destined for the falling and the rising of many in Israel,
and to be a sign that will be opposed” ( Lk 2:34 )
Today, though in the hearts of Christians Jesus is God and Savior,
there are some Hong Kong people who have a very negative impression
of him. They call any remark about Jesus they consider exaggerated or
unrealistic, ‘talking about Jesus,’ which is a derogatory phrase. To
them, ‘ talking about Jesus’ is equivalent to talking nonsense. In the
eyes of many modern people, Jesus is not even worth a penny!
So today if Jesus stood before us and asked us, or asked you, who would
you say Jesus is ? You may have many ‘standard answers’ which you learned
from other people. For example, you may say Jesus is God, Savior, brother,
friend, bread of life, vine, shepherd. Or he is almighty, he is Lord
of history; he is everywhere, he will come again to judge the living
and the dead… and so on. But if I ask you seriously ‘ Do you really
believe these answers?’ how would you answer? Would you answer courageously
‘I truly believe’ or ‘I believe completely’?
But if Jesus has really saved you and has enabled you to stand up and
lift up your head, why would you still feel inferior ? If Jesus is really
your brother, your friend, why is your relationship with him so tepid?
If Jesus is really our spiritual food, nourishing our spirit, why are
we so indifferent when we receive Holy Communion, or so seldom go into
Church to adore the Blessed Sacrament? Or after receiving this ‘spiritual
food, why is it we do not have the strength to face life's challenges?
If you believe Jesus is really a shepherd why do you not turn to him
after sinning, lack the spiritual energy to turn to him and rely on
him? If you believe Jesus is almighty and is the Lord of history, why
do you think that those who control history are the political leaders
of Beijing or Taipei or Britain or the United States? Why do you not
have full confidence in China and Hong Kong's future? If you really
believe that Jesus is everywhere, why do you dare to sin in secret?
If in the presence of companions you dare not try use trickery, why
would you do so in the presence of Jesus? Do you not know that Jesus
sees the ‘secrets of the heart’? If Jesus is to come again to judge
humankind, why do you not make efforts now to build up treasure for
Some say knowledge is difficult, but action is easy. Others say knowledge
is easy, but action is difficult. Some people try to combine knowledge
and action. But they are two different realities and cannot be taken
together. To be able to unify the two is the highest kind of wisdom.
Faith is also like that.
In the “Doctrine of the Mean” Confucius says, “To be fond of learning
is near to knowledge, to practice vigorously is near to magnanimity,
to acknowledge shame is near to energy.”
(1) That is to say, if we study hard we get closer to
being wise, if we practice to the best of our ability we get closer
to having a kind heart, if we acknowledge shame we get closer to being
courageous. Knowledge, kindness and courage are three virtues which
can only be achieved with continuous practice
A Sung scholar went on to say, “Only with practice is there true knowledge.”(2)
We can say also that only with practice will we have
true faith. That is to say, we can attain true faith in Jesus only if
we carry it out in our daily lives.
Let us not only have faith in Jesus but also carry out his words in
our everyday lives, and in this way be in contact with Jesus, grow in
knowledge of him and build up a strong relationship with him.
When Jesus one day comes to ask us who he is, let us be able to say
in all truth and sincerity, ‘You are Christ, our Savior. We have loved
you already and want to love you for all eternity.’