Readings: Zechariah 12:10–11, 13:1
Psalm 62:2-6, 8-9
Today’s gospel is unambiguous – Jesus asks the disciples directly for a statement of faith in him: ‘who do the crowds say that I am?’ This is followed by his blunt acknowledgment of the sufferings that lie before him. Neither does he soften the message, given to all, not just his disciples, that followers of his must take up their individual cross every day and follow him. Is this the Good News?
Let us go back to the first reading. ‘On the house of David and the citizens of Jerusalem I will pour out a spirit of kindness and prayer’. Another translation has ‘pleasantness and supplication’. The response to the one whom they have pierced will be mourning and weeping, as for someone well-beloved. In the Psalm: ‘your love is better than life’, ‘my body pines for you’, ‘my soul clings to you’. In Galatians, the second reading: ‘but all of you are one in Christ Jesus’, through baptism. We cannot but be overwhelmed by the magnanimity of God. ‘Pouring out’ conjures up a vision of plenty, of generosity. Is it not amazing that we can talk about clinging to God? Surely we can only cling to someone dearly loved. And clinging is reciprocal, two who love.
Are we ready, like Peter, to ‘speak up’? The crosses we are asked to carry vary in size and weight. So many people throughout the world are carrying the cross of religious and racial persecution, of poverty, of famine. None of these may be my cross at present, but as Jesus was given help in the actual carrying of his cross, am I ready to help others by pouring out kindness and love, in the shape of my practical and prayerful help? By the gift of baptism I have the ability to do it.
‘Merely by belonging to Christ’ – it is up to each one of us.
Lucina Montague, O.P.