Friday, 14 September 2012

The Mass reveals Christ more deeply than words: Mark 8.37-38


Again, we are faced with the paradox of Mark telling us about Jesus telling his disciples not to tell anyone about Him. This time, Jesus has asked them the misleadingly simple question: Who do you say that I am?
Predictably enough, if we have followed Mark's portrayal of the disciples so far, they come up with all the wrong answers. Finally, Peter seems to get it right, when he proclaims that Jesus is the Christ. This is where Jesus tells them all to keep his identity secret.
And well He might, since the next paragraph shows how little the disciples understand even when they know that He is the Christ. They are clearly expecting a very different Christ - that is, a very different Messiah, since 'Christ' is simply the Greek translation of that Hebrew word - from the suffering servant that Jesus depicts. Even when he plainly predicts His execution and resurrection, the disciples cannot or will not believe it. And so, those famously harsh words to Peter: Get thee behind me, Satan!
But this is not just a matter for the disciples of yore. It should come as no surprise that so many people even now cannot or will not accept the kind of Messiah that Jesus is, and the kind of God that He has revealed Himself to be. Christians have been mocked and persecuted for their crucified God from the outset. This is why, in the early Church, this great mystery of our faith - that Christ has died, is risen, and will come again - was revealed only to the baptised and confirmed initiates, and even then not in words. Everyone else was ejected the church after the readings from Scripture, leaving only the faithful to participate in that mystical action by which Christ revealed Himself more intimately than words could express: the sacrifice of the Eucharist.
So let us come to Mass this week in deep gratitude for the privilege of knowing Christ for who He really is, consuming Him as He consumes us in the depths of His self-giving love.

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