Twenty-fourth Sunday in Ordinary
September 12, 2021 Cycle B
by Rev. Jose Maria de Sousa Alvim Calado Cortes, F.S.C.E.
Chaplain, Saint John Paul II National Shrine
Sunday Reading Meditations
In today’s Gospel, Jesus asks the disciples who they say he is and Peter replies: “You are the Christ” (Mk 8:29). However, since Peter still does not understand the mystery of the cross, he rebukes Jesus for telling them that he has to suffer, be killed and then rise from the dead. Peter fails to understand that that the cross is the means for Jesus’ glorification.
“You are thinking not as God does, but as human beings do” (Mk 8:33). Jesus’ words tell us that there are two different ways of thinking. We need to think like God and not in a human way.
The proclamation of the kingdom contains an invitation to change our mentality. Jesus starts his public life with these words: “This is the time of fulfillment. The kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe in the gospel” (Mk 1:15). Here, Jesus means that we have to change our inner selves and our old way of thinking.
Saint Paul says: “Do not conform yourselves to this age but be transformed by the renewal of your mind” (Rm 12:2). Such transformation cannot happen without our collaboration. We are called to believe and to act on our belief. In today’s second reading, Saint James declares: “What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone says he has faith but does not have works?” (Jas 2:14). We need to pass from our human way of thinking to the divine way.
The human way of thinking is partial, while God’s way of thinking is holistic, with the plan of unifying all things in Christ, as Saint Paul says, “a plan for the fullness of times, to sum up all things in Christ, in heaven and on earth” (Eph 1:15).
The human way of thinking is superficial, while God’s way of thinking is profound: “Not as man sees does God see, because man sees the appearance but the LORD looks into the heart” (1 Sam 16:7). To think in God’s way means to see beyond appearances and discover the true reality that is invisible to the eyes but visible to the heart.
To think as God does means to have the mind and heart of Jesus in us, which happens little by little, as we let the Lord live in us: “… yet I live, no longer I, but Christ lives in me; insofar as I now live in the flesh, I live by faith in the Son of God who has loved me and given himself up for me” (Gal 2:20).
Our faith in Christ transforms how we see people and things. By the light of faith, we perceive reality in a different way. For Jesus, all things were coming from the Father’s hands and returning back to the Father. In Christ we discover that love moves all things, as Dante wrote: “Love, that moves the sun and the other stars.”
When we see the cross as defeat and not as a passage to the fullness of life, we are thinking in a mundane way, like Peter. However, we can change. Today’s first reading says: “The Lord GOD is my help, therefore I am not disgraced […] See, the Lord GOD is my help; who will prove me wrong?” (Is 50:7,9).
The way of the Lord is not difficult. The only thing we need to do is to walk in God’s presence. As today’s responsorial psalm refrain says, “I will walk before the Lord, in the land of the living.”
May the Lord grant us the grace to learn to think as God does. Amen.