Fr. Mike’s Homily for Friday of the 25th week in Ordinary Time Cycle I

Fr. Mike’s Homily for Friday of the 25th week in Ordinary Time Cycle I

Theme: The Messianic Secret

By: Fr. Mike Lagrimas
St. Michael the Archangel Parish
Diocese of Novaliches

Homily for Friday September 24 2021

Lk 9:18-22

Once when Jesus was praying in solitude and the disciples were with him, he asked them, “Who do the crowds say that I am?” They said in reply, “John the Baptist; others, Elijah; still others, ‘One of the ancient prophets has arisen.’” Then he said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” Peter said in reply, “The Messiah of God.” He rebuked them and directed them not to tell this to anyone. He said, “The Son of Man must suffer greatly and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests, and the scribes, and be killed and on the third day be raised.”

“Who do the crowds say that I am?”

Many people who encountered Jesus had different opinions about Him: He is John the Baptist, Elijah or one of the prophets. Definitely there were other opinions: a powerful wonder-worker, a different kind of rabbi, a compassionate friend, as well as a glutton, drunkard, friend of tax collectors and sinners. For those in power, He is a real threat and enemy that must be removed from their midst.

Thus, he asks them: “But who do you say that I am?” For sure, the disciples also have nothing new to say about Him as well. Then the great heavenly revelation came from the Father through Simon, Son of John: “The Messiah of God.” In other translations, “The Christ of God.” ‘Christ’ is not a name but a title. It comes from the Greek ‘christos’ which means, “anointed”. In Hebrew, ‘christos’ is ‘messiah’. The anointing with oil is done to the one designated as king. The Messiah is the One who is anointed the King of Israel. Therefore, Peter’s declaration, through the revelation of the heavenly Father, is the proclamation that Jesus is the long-awaited Savior of Israel. Hence, the relationship of Jesus with His disciples radically changes, for from now on, they know that Jesus is the Messiah.

But immediately after this heavenly declaration comes the serious instruction not to tell this to anyone: “He rebuked them and directed them not to tell this to anyone” (Lk 9:21). This is also The other Synoptic Gospels of Matthew and Mark (Mt 16:20; Mk 8:30-33) also records this prohbition.

This is the ‘Messianic Secret’ that must be strictly kept in order not to jeopardize the mission of Jesus. The people were eagerly longing for the coming of the Messiah. However, what they were expecting is a political Messiah, like King David, will bring freedom, independence and victory to the Jewish nation. Prematurely revealing the Messiahship of Jesus will certainly excite the people and force Him to become just a political Messiah.

That is why, after revealing His true identity to His disciples, Jesus immediately predicts His passion, death and resurrection: “The Son of Man must suffer greatly and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests, and the scribes, and be killed and on the third day be raised.” He is the Suffering Servant as described by the Prophet Isaiah. His victory will come through His loving self-sacrifice. The cross, then, is essential to His mission.

Unfortunately, the disciples find this declaration totally ridiculous and absurd. The Messiah cannot suffer and die. Hence, they did not take the words of Jesus seriously. Jesus, however, insists that without the cross, it is impossible to understand what a true Messiah is and who He really is. There is no Christ without the cross. The salvation that Jesus brings is through His self-giving and self-immolation: “Unless a grain of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains just a grain of wheat; but if it dies, it produces much fruit” (Jn 12:24).

As followers of a cross-bearing Lord, we are reminded that the cross is the absolute requirement in following Jesus: “Whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me” (Mt 16:24). This is a very important lesson for us, for it is so easy nowadays to succumb to the values of materialism, selfishness and immorality in the world. These values put undue emphasis on pleasure, comfort and luxury. This invariably leads to the rejection of the cross and the abandonment of the values of suffering and sacrifice.

This is precisely the reason for the phenomenal success of the ‘Prosperity Gospel’ being preached by televangelists and false prophets. They only talk about rewards and glory, but there is never any mention of the cross. As a result of this, we have now a lot of ‘Cafeteria Catholics’. They just choose the teachings of Jesus that are convenient and favorable to them, but not those that demand conversion, sacrifice and commitment.

St. Gregory the Great accurately describes such people with the following words: “There are some who wish to be humble, but without being despised; who wish to be happy with their lot, but without being needy; who want to be chaste but without mortifying the body; to be patient without suffering. They want both to acquire virtues and to avoid the sacrifices that those virtues involve: they are like soldiers who flee the battlefield and try to win the war from the comfort of the city.”

Fr. Mike Lagrimas
St. Michael the Archangel Parish
Diocese of Novaliches

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