Catholic homily for the 24th Sunday in Ordinary Time Year B
Theme: The mission of Christ
By: Fr. Cyril Unachukwu CCE
Homily for Sunday September 12 2021
The vicissitudes of the modern world offer us many deceptive promises of a most comfortable life without stress and difficulties; a style of life in which commitment is absolutely at the mercy of the unfolding of relative circumstances. A true knowledge of Christ and a deeper understanding of the Christian Life remind us that human life is a mystery; a mystery that can only be unravelled and lived in connection with Christ. May we come to know Christ and may our knowledge of Christ transform our perspective and orient us always towards the good; Amen.
The encounter between Jesus and His disciples at Caesarea Philippi in the Gospel Reading of today (Mark 8:27-35) was a decisive moment in the disciples’ understanding of who their Master was. Contrary to the responses of people about the identity of Jesus, Peter spoke most eloquently “you are the Christ.” That Jesus is the Christ is a summary of His life and mission. Unfortunately, Peter did not understand what it meant to be the Christ – the anointed One. He is the anointed one of God, whose mission is to bridge the gulf which sin created between God and the human race. He is the anointed One who came to unravel for us the true meaning of life and the proper way to find satisfaction in life. He is the anointed One who came to lead us to find God within the uncertainties of the human existential experiences and through our fruitful encounter with God to possess in full the merits of the salvation He gained for us on the Cross. He is the anointed One that came to teach us never to resist God and the salvific effects He works in us through uncommon means. He is the anointed One who through suffering and pain has changed the course of history. He is the anointed One whom the prophet Isaiah speaks of in the First Reading of today (Isaiah 50:5-9), “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 disciples, at this moment, understood the Christ only in glorious categories. But Jesus knew that part of His mission as the Christ was to give a complete picture about human life, because Himself is the Way, the Truth and the Life. Human life is not all about splendour and glory. Human life also involves the Cross; the Cross which Jesus, Who is Life in person, carried in order to show us the way. In fact, as the Cross was the central means of the glorification of the Christ, so also are our individual crosses the central means of our glorification and victory. These crosses are made manifest for us in different ways.
Expecting life without stress and struggles has led some persons to frustration and depression and even to the most grievous act of committing suicide. Life must always have its ups and downs. To lose sight of this aspect of life is to entirely lose the very taste of life and eventually to lose its very meaning and purpose. This is part of the main messages of the Christ that “was destined to suffer grievously, to be rejected by the elders and the chief priests and the scribes, and to be put to death.” Every human person must be open to experience this part of life; of suffering, of rejection and of the different types of death we must face on daily basis. Sometimes, these ugly experiences may come from places we least expect. Every human life must be open to the Cross.
The Cross never dehumanises, rather the Cross christifies, divinizes and makes us flourish. Irrespective of how unpleasant and undesirable the Cross may be, the Cross is the salt of life. The joy is that the mystery of life does not end with these unpleasant and undesirable aspects of life. There is the hope of triumph and victory for those who understand and accept the salvific nature of this unattractive part of life. In the words of Christ, “after three days to rise again.” The Christian experience of ‘rising again’ is inspired and sustained by faith; the type of faith that is operative and fruitful. Saint James speaks of this type of faith in the Second Reading of today (James 2:14-18), “faith is like that: if good works do not go with it, it is quite dead.” Faith in God inspires us to carry our crosses and to understand the value of life in the face of the Cross, in the face of suffering, rejection and death; after the example of Christ and under the promptings of the Holy Spirit. Proactive faith in God makes it possible to sleep in the bed of life filled with roses, irrespective of their thorns.
Lord, Giver of Life, enlighten our minds with the light of faith to look beyond the lame promises of misguided human progress, to understand personally and collectively the Model You have given us in Christ and to always be docile to the promptings of the Holy Spirit; Amen.
Happy Sunday; Fr Cyril CCE