24th Sunday in Ordinary Time. September 13th 2015.
Is 50:5-9; James 2:14-18; Mk 8:27-35
When Jesus truly becomes my Lord
I was sweating on the roadside with several other desperate passengers a few weeks ago in the burning morning heat of Manila sunshine waiting for a local bus to my destination. I watched with frustration as the traffic jam before me got worse and I wondered if I would make it in time for my class that morning. I tried to pray but I had a hard time deciding exactly what to pray for. A more friendly weather? Faster moving traffic? Less passengers to contend with for the few available seats? An air conditioned bus with lots of room for us all? To receive a text message that my class has been cancelled and I did not have to travel anymore? (I loved that last one!) The prayer possibilities were endless. It never occurred to me to pray for the grace to bring a Christ-like attitude of patient endurance into that difficult situation.
Is Jesus Christ truly our Lord as we so easily claim that He is? The Lordship of Christ in our lives is on three levels. On the first obvious level, the lordship of Christ in our lives means that we let Him be in control of all aspects and circumstances of our lives. Kyrios, the Greek for “Master,” means the one who is in control of the situation. On the second level, if Christ is our Lord, we are willing to experience everything that Christ experienced, including suffering in different circumstances and from different people. On the third and last level, if He is our Lord, we are certain that we will have all we need to do the Christ-like thing always and be faithful to the Father in all circumstances. Jesus Christ desires to be Lord not only over the aspects of our lives but also over our attitudes so that we can do what He did in all those circumstances.
We find all three levels of the lordship of Jesus Christ in today’s Gospel as Jesus spells out the implication of declaring Him to be our Christ. In the first place, by foretelling His suffering, death and Resurrection as something that is a must and not a mere probability, Jesus shows that He is in control of the situation that would unfold in Jerusalem, “The Son of Man must suffer greatly and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests, and the scribes, and be killed, and rise after three days.” In His life and death, He is in full control, “I lay down my life that I may take it up again. No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have power to lay it down and I have power to take it again.”(Jn 10:17-18) In rebuking Jesus, Peter is reluctant to accept the Lordship of Christ on the second level i.e. he refuses to share in the Lord’s painful experience in Jerusalem. This earns him not just the label of an unfaithful servant, but the enemy in disguise, “Get behind me, Satan.” Lastly, Jesus the Lord invites us to do what He did if He is our Lord, “Whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself, take up his cross and follow me.”
My dear brothers and sisters who claim Jesus as Lord, have we surrendered control of all aspects of our lives to the Lord Jesus Christ? Is He the Lord of all the moments of our lives, all the affections of our hearts, all our relationships, all our resources and talents, all our thoughts, feelings and actions, all our being? Secondly, are we willing to share in all that Christ Jesus experienced in this life? Are we willing to be tempted like He was tempted, to bear insults as He did, to face rejection and hatred from others as He did, to experience fatigue and even visible failures in life as He did? Lastly, are we ready to bring a Christ-like attitude to all circumstances and events in life? The lordship of Christ must be experienced in all these three levels if it is truly authentic.
St. James teaches us what faith in Jesus Christ our Lord really means. He warns us of the illusion of thinking we are doing enough when we simply wish others well, “Go in peace, keep warm and eat well.” The true lordship of Jesus in our lives moves us to do something tangible to meet their needs too. Jesus did not just wish us well; He shed his last drop of blood to bring us the best. Just as Jesus “did not come to be served but to give His life as a ransom for many,” so too in Him as our Lord we too can and should serve, love, forgive, and lay down our lives for others.
The First Reading is the prophecy of the suffering but faithful servant in Deutero-Isaiah who faces opposition, hatred, rejection, physical and verbal abuse as he strives to fulfil his prophetic mission. He perseveres in fidelity to the Lord in this trying circumstance, “I have not rebelled, have not turned back.” He is certain that he will not be put to shame or disgrace because he can count on the help of the Lord, “The Lord God is my help, therefore I am not disgraced; I have set my face like flint, knowing that I shall not be put to shame.” Just as Jesus Christ was not put to shame for His steadfast faithfulness to the Father even to the grave, we too receive from Jesus a solemn guarantee that we will not be put to shame too when we submit to His lordship in all aspects of our lives, willingly share in His own experiences and strive to bring a Christ-like attitude to all conditions of our lives.
In the next few days, we will be celebrating the Memorial of Our Lady of Sorrows. No one has or will ever make a more complete surrender to the lordship of Christ as the Virgin of Nazareth at the Annunciation, “Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord; may it be done to me according to your word.” She placed her entire being and all circumstances into the hands of God without any reserve. Secondly, no person shared more in the suffering of Christ like she did with her pure heart and her immense love for Jesus as her Lord and her son. Who can fathom the anguish of her soul throughout her life, from the moment of Simeon’s prophecy about a sword piercing her soul in Lk 2:35 up till her agony under the Cross as she watches Jesus take His last breath? What could she pray for under the Cross? But she chose to share in Christ’s humble and silent accepting attitude at that painful moment. No one shared in Christ’s own fidelity to the Father like Mary did as she united herself in love and faith to Jesus’ obedience and self-offering to the Father.
In times of pain and suffering, let us look to Mary at the Cross to learn from her the lesson of living under the Lordship of Christ. In those moments when prayer just seems hard and we do not even know what to pray for, when we feel overwhelmed and sometimes doubtful of the Lordship of Christ in our lives, when we are tempted to ask, “Are you still my Lord?” we must learn from Mary how to let Jesus be the Lord of the moment no matter how dark it may be, see our pains as a participation in the Lord’s painful experience and act like Christ in those moments.
This is what the lordship of Christ Jesus is all about. It is not a guarantee of favorable and convenient conditions in this life but a solemn assurance that, because He is in control in life and in death, we will never be put to shame, disgraced or disappointed if we share in His experiences and do what He has done with the grace we receive from having Him as our only lord.
Glory to Jesus!!! Honor to Mary!!!