16 September, Sunday – Deeper Way

16 September 2018

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Isaiah 50:5-9

The Lord has opened my ear.

For my part, I made no resistance,
neither did I turn away.
I offered my back to those who struck me,
my cheeks to those who tore at my beard,
I did not cover my face
against insult and spittle.

The Lord comes to my help,
so that I am untouched by the insults.
So, too, I set my face like flint;
I know I shall not be shamed.

My vindicator is hear at hand. Does anyone start proceedings against me?
Then let us go to court together.
Who thinks he has a case against me?
Let him approach me.
The Lord is coming to my help,
who dare condemn me?

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James 2:14-18

Take the case, my brothers, of someone who has never done a single good act but claims that he has faith. Will that faith save him? 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? Faith is like that: if good works do not go with it, it is quite dead.

This is the way to talk to people of that kind: “You say you have faith and I have good deeds; I will prove to you that I have faith by showing you my good deeds – now you prove to me that you have faith without any good deeds to show.”

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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,” they said, “others Elijah; others again, one of the prophets.” “But you,” he asked, “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.

And he began to teach them that the Son of Man was destined to suffer grievously, 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 started to remonstrate with him. But, turning and seeing his disciples, he rebuked Peter and said to him, “Get behind me, Satan! Because the way you think is not God’s way, but man’s.”

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. For 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.”

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“Who do people say I am?” 

Imagine the scenario of our first encounter. We do not know each other yet since it is our first meeting. If I were to ask you “Who are you?”, you would probably have an immediate answer. It could be a general description of yourself, your job, or could be anything that you are not ashamed of. You already have this memorized narration that will give a good first impression.

How about if we were asked by Jesus, “Who do you say I am?”  What would our answer be? At the back of my mind, I know he was born more than 2000 years ago. He was from Nazareth. His mother was Mary and his father was Joseph, a carpenter. He had so many followers and performed many miracles. Yet, he was sentenced to death at the age of 33. We have known this much about Christ. And yet, there should be more to it; because it is not as simple as “Who is Jesus Christ?” but rather, who is Jesus Christ to us?

In the Gospel, Jesus asked Peter, “Who do you say I am?” Peter replied, “You are the Christ.”  This signifies that Peter is clearly stating that he knew Jesus as the Saviour that they had been waiting for. After Jesus told them not to tell anyone about Him, He also told them that the Son of Man was destined to suffer grievously, 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.  All that being said, Peter disagreed with Jesus. I feel that what Peter was saying was that it is impossible to happen.

Sometimes in life, we are so fixated on the glamorous side of things. Peter, similarly, was only focused on Jesus as the Messiah, neglecting the course of action to becoming one. Jesus is our Saviour and we must always remember that He died for the sake of us.  It is not enough that we only knew about it. We have to seek a deeper, personal encounter with Him. We have to find ways to respond to Jesus. Then we ask, “But how?” It will never be easy. Jesus said so Himself, “If anyone wants to be a follower of mine, let him renounce himself and take up his cross and follow me.”  The statement itself for me is very hard to bear. Imagine taking up my cross. That means I must carry all my burdens and hardships in life. And with all of those, I have to do the will of God. But as hard as it is, we have to remember that God is always with us. God gives us trials that we can overcome. It is by the grace of God that we can surpass all our difficulties.

The most important thing that we have to remember is to pray. We all have these memorized prayers.  Yes, it is okay to pray those. But let us pray from our hearts and not from our memory. Let us pray as if those words are our own and we say those to our God. Let us pray that we will be able to know God’s will, accept it, and fulfil it.

(Today’s OXYGEN by Beryl Baterina)

Prayer: Father God, please grant us the grace to know You more and to do Your will.

Thanksgiving: Thank you Father, for giving us Your son, Jesus Christ to save us from our sins.

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