Fr Paul reads from the Gospel of Mark (8: 27-33) in which Jesus, as he and his disciples were visiting villages around Caesarea Philippi, asked them ‘Who do people say I am?’.Fr Paul says today’s reading is the turning-point in Mark’s Gospel. Up until now the stories we have heard have all shown ever-increasing wonder and amazement at Jesus’ personality, his goodness and his authority. But even his closest disciples do not seem to have seen what this implies. Then suddenly, after the blind man of Bethsaida receives his sight, Peter comes to the realisation that Jesus is the Messiah, the Anointed of God, for whom everyone was waiting. However, Peter still does not understand what this implies. Jesus is not a conquering political hero, who will simply wipe out all opposition with overwhelming force; he won’t make every path smooth and gentle. Jesus begins to show his disciples that the road to fulfilment is through suffering. Three times Jesus repeats this prophecy, and three times the disciples fail to grasp the lesson, first Peter, then the disciples who are arguing about precedence, then the two sons of Zebedee, who want the best places for themselves. So, three times Jesus repeats that if you want to follow Jesus you must follow him to the Cross. Fr Paul say today’s Gospel Lesson is that we, the followers of Jesus now, are also slow to learn this lesson. How often do we resist or avoid any suffering that comes our way?
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