Sunday, June 20, 2010

Twelfth Sunday in Ordinary Time: "Taking Up the Cross Daily"

Twelfth Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year "C") June 20, 2010: JESUS' MESSIANIC AGENDA: TAKING UP THE CROSS DAILY [Texts: Zechariah 12:10-11; 13:1 [Psalm 63]; Galatians 3:26-29; Luke 9:18-24]

Today we continue the on-going reading of Luke's gospel begun last week with the story of the Sinful Woman who wept at Jesus' feet tears of joy and devotion.

Now, from Luke, we learn that it was Jesus' feeding of the 5000 which led the crowds to suspect that Jesus might be an eschatological figure (`John the Baptist ... Elijah ... [or] that one of the ancient prophets has arisen'). For their part, the disciples--through Peter their spokesman--confessed their conviction that Jesus was "the Messiah of God".

If, as many scholars suspect, Luke was following Mark's story line in the account of Jesus' early ministry, he has linked the feeding of the crowds with Peter's confession by omitting a major portion of Mark's narrative (6:45-8:26), notably the feeding of the 4000.

Further, Luke has not chosen to inform his readers that the location of this watershed moment was near "the villages of Caesarea Philippi" (Mark 8:27). Instead, Luke focused on the fact that the dialogue happened "once when Jesus was praying alone, with only the disciples near him".

Peter's confession was followed by Jesus' command to keep quiet about His identity and by the first prediction that the Son of Man would fulfil His messianic destiny by suffering, dying and rising from the dead on the third day, as in the gospels of Mark and Matthew.

Still, Luke made no mention of Peter's rebellion against Jesus' teaching or Jesus' subsequent reply with its rebuke of Peter's too "human" way of thinking (cf. Mark 8:32-33; Matthew 16:22-23).

In this way, Luke enhanced the portrait of Peter offered to the church. When Jesus prayed for Peter in the passion narrative, He promised that after his conversion he would strengthen the brethren (22:31-34).

In Luke's perspective, the rich teaching of Jesus on discipleship served not as a corrective to a mistaken viewpoint, but took its place as the dynamic core of the gospel way leading to eternal life.

Five sayings described the demands of being a disciple to Jesus; only two are given in today's gospel reading (Luke 9:23-24), but we shall comment on the others as well (9:25-27).

Everyone who wants to be a follower of Jesus must do so every day. Only Luke describes discipleship as this daily imperative. Indeed, while "denying self and taking up the cross" appear in the Greek aorist tense (a single definite action), the present imperative of the verb "to follow" should probably be translated as "keep on following me".

The second saying unveils the paradox that lies at the heart of the gospel, "those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for My sake will find it". Faced with the option of pursuing Jesus' messianic agenda or indulging one's own interests, Jesus says it is only the former that leads to fulfilment.

The third saying addressed marketplace issues ("what does it profit them if they gain the whole world, but lose or forfeit themselves"). Here we note that the NRSV plural translation, adopted for the sake of inclusiveness, takes some of the edge off challenges Jesus addresses to each person. Jesus contends that there are dimensions of life vital to happiness which cannot be satisfied by possessions or wealth.

The fourth saying demands public expression of discipleship, which will be acknowledged at the end of time. Those "ashamed of" Jesus and His words in this life will be shamed "when the Son of Man comes in glory".

The fifth saying assured Jesus' hearers that some present would experience aspects of the coming of God's Kingdom, even though its fullness must remain a future hope.

In a text fulfilled in Jesus' piercing on Calvary (John 19:37), Zechariah foresaw a period of mourning in Israel ("as one mourns for an only child ... as one weeps over a firstborn"). After this period of grief, however, God would provide for the house of David a fountain of cleansing to save people "from sin and impurity".

Paul assured the Galatians--tempted to abandon their faith-commitment to the gospel of the cross--that through their baptism they had become a new creation. Henceforth, no distinction (Jew or Greek, slave or free, male or female) would be of any account, "for all of you are one in Christ Jesus".


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Photos of Our Lady of the Visitation II: The New Hall's Dedication & Blessing

The KofC Honour Guard

The guests included an MP, an MPP and an Ottawa City Councillor

The ribbon-cutting

Photo credit: Teena Mallory-Gainsford

The parish's fundraising projects include a cookbook with 347 recipes (including some traditional, old-style ones) at $10 each and a double CD by Spirit Highway, a folk group that leads worship at Our Lady of the Visitation. The first CD is a narration of the Way of the Cross by pastor Father Brian Hennessey and the second CD contains fifteen songs by the trio: cost $15. All proceeds to the Building Fund.

More info at www.olvis.ca.

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