THE SERVANT GENERAL
THE NEW EVANGELIZATION
WHO DO YOU SAY THAT I AM?
Today’s gospel: Mark 8:27-33
Jesus is the Savior of the world. But many do not know this
good news. This is why we need to evangelize, to proclaim
this gospel, to help bring people to Jesus.
even those who have met Jesus do not really know him. Jesus
asked his disciples, “Who do people say that I am?”
(v.27b). Many cults say that Jesus is a great prophet (v.28)
but he is just a man, he is not God. Christians do believe
Jesus is God, but what is his real importance in their lives?
Is he a distant God who lives in heaven? Is he interested
in our day-to-day lives? Is he really there for me?
it is important for one who has met Jesus to get to know him.
He is Savior and Lord. He is brother and friend. He is my
personal Savior and friend. He is not an esoteric God. He
is not uncaring. He is not distant from my day-to-day circumstances.
Thus Jesus asks everyone, “But who do you say that I
am?” (v.29a). We need to come to a true personal encounter
with Jesus. We need to know him as the living God who is my
personal Savior and friend. He died for me. He lives for me.
He suffered for me so that I might make it to eternal life
in heaven with him.
many Christians do have a personal relationship with Jesus,
but have not really gotten to know him, to know what kind
of a God he is. They look to a great King; right. They look
to a Savior; right. They look to a God who helps them in their
need; right. But what they do not want to face is that Jesus
is a God who went to the cross in weakness. Jesus “began
to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer greatly and
be rejected by the elders, the chief priests, and the scribes,
and be killed, and rise after three days.” (v.31). People
love the gospel of prosperity, but they disdain the gospel
of the cross. They look to bountiful blessings but shun trials
and suffering. They look to self-fulfillment but not to self-denial
and self-emptying. But the cross is precisely the locus of
the gospel, of our life in Christ, of empowerment for proclaiming
is the same case with you too, isn’t it? But don’t
feel too bad. It happened too to the would-be first pope.
“Then Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him.”
(v.32b). We have our own ideas of who God should be, what
He should do, what work He should give us to do. Now realize
this. If this were the case, then we are making ourselves
God. Then we are saying we know better than God. Then we are
proud and not humble. Then we are self-referential rather
than self-emptying. When God does not answer our prayers,
when God does not do what we want Him to do, or make us go
where we want to go, then we are disappointed, perhaps even
bitter, perhaps we even lie low and turn away from God. Or,
God forbid, we rebuke Him!
see how dangerous this turn of events become. Jesus “rebuked
Peter and said, ‘Get behind me, Satan. You are thinking
not as God does, but as human beings do.” (v.33b). When
we do not take on the mind of God, when we insist on our own
human thinking (defective as that often is), then we are putting
ourselves in league with Satan! There are only two ways in
the world--the way of God and the way of the enemy of God.
If we are neither hot nor cold, then God spits us out of His
mouth. When we do not go with God, even as we would not consciously
say we are going with Satan, that is in effect what we will
be doing. If we are not with God we are against Him. If we
do not gather with God then we scatter (the very work of the
notice something. Peter took Jesus aside to privately rebuke
him, and Jesus could have rebuked Peter in turn privately
as well. He could have spared him the embarrassment of being
called Satan. But Jesus “turned around, and looking
at his disciples, rebuked Peter” (v.33a). He was rebuking
Peter but looking at his disciples. This was too important
a lesson just to be given to Peter. If his disciples were
to carry on after him, then they needed to know who he was,
and what he was.
So to proclaim Christ is why we are now called to the New
Evangelization. People need to meet Christ. They need to know
Christ. They need to start to live Christ. So those of us
who know Jesus and are living his way of life need to share
Christ. Jesus then had “warned them not to tell anyone
about him.” (v.30). It was not yet the opportune time.
The Jews were awaiting the Messiah and had false notions about
him as a mighty King who would liberate them from their enemies.
indeed Jesus is the mighty King. Indeed he is the Savior who
liberates us. Indeed he is the One who has defeated our enemies--the
evil one, death, sin. And now, as has been from the time Jesus
ascended into heaven, is the opportune time. Jesus, rather
than warning us not to tell anyone about him, actually commands
us to tell everyone about him.
are his disciples and he sends us forth, promising to be with
us, until the end of the age. “Now Jesus and his disciples
set out for the villages of Caesarea Philippi.” (v.27a).
It is our turn. Let us set out, with Jesus, for all the villages
of the world.