Readings: Zach 12:10-11; Gal 3:26-29; Lk 9:18-24
The readings this Sunday raise three important questions. Who is Jesus for us? What did he do for us? What is so important about coming to Mass Sunday after Sunday to thank Him? The prophet Zachariah in the first reading prophecies, "They shall look upon him whom they have pierced." In the Gospel Jesus identifies himself with the one who is pierced. "The Son of Man must suffer greatly...and be killed and on the third day be raised." At every Mass we look upon the one who was pierced for our sins. In doing so, we participate in the mystery of the One who, through his suffering, death and resurrection, has give us life. The readings challenge us to follow Jesus carrying our own cross daily. Our self-offering is a sign that we know who Jesus Christ is.
To illustrate this point, I refer to a dramatic story written by Matthew Kelly in his book Rediscovering Catholicism. The main character is a courageous dad and his only son. The story is about a mystery plague that breaks out in Asia, then spreads to Africa and Europe. The president tries to protect the United States by cancelling all fights to our country, but it is too late. The plague appears in New York and pretty soon people throughout the country fall ill and die. As more and more perish, it seems that the whole world is doomed. After days of terrible news, a ray of hope appears. Research scientists announce that they have discovered a possible cure. The antidote, however, requires the blood from uncontaminated person. Suddenly the scientists find such a person - a young boy; an only son. His dad rushes him to the hospital. The doctors explain they may need all the boy's blood. The father chokes as he looks at his son, who says, it is OK, dad. The antidote requires every drop of the boy's blood - but it stops the plague. Some months later, people around the world gather in gratitude to remember the boy. The dad attends one of the services where people’s gratefulness moves him deeply. Even though each service takes a fair amount of time, no one says, "It's too long." Or, "I feel bored." Or, "I have other things to do." No, they all realize that without the boy's sacrifice, they would all have died.
This moving story helps us to understand why in the Gospel Jesus wants us to know who He is and what he did for us. “Who do you say that I am?” This question is also addressed more directly to us today: Who do you say that I am? Who is Jesus Christ for me? In other words, what difference does Jesus make in my life? If his life, death and resurrection make any difference, then like in the story, we realize that without His dying and rising we would all have perished. The message this Sunday threefold: 1) Jesus offered his last drop of blood that we may have life. Today Jesus challenges us to give our lives that others may live. 2) At every Mass we offer our praise and thanksgiving to the One who offered His last blood, and thus we must never get tired or bored in doing so; 3) The Eucharist we receive is like the antidote in the story. All who receive it worthily are saved from the terrible deadly plague. The implications are rather serious. Not to receive the antidote, may indeed lead to spiritual death.
©2016 John S. Mbinda