Monday, September 14, 2015

24th Sunday Ordinary Time - "Taking Up Our Cross" - Mark 8:27-35

Every time I hear or read this passage of Mark’s Gospel I am reminded of the Flip Wilson Show character, Geraldine.  Geraldine was always being tempted by the devil into doing things that were bad for her.  In one particular episode Geraldine was shopping.  She spotted a very fine dress with a very high price tag. 
The devil said to her, “That’s a very nice looking dress.”
And Geraldine replied, “But, its’ too expensive.”
The devil said, “Killa (her boyfriend) would like you in that dress, go ahead - try it on.”
Geraldine replied, “Yeah, Killa likes me looking good, but the dress is still too expensive.”
The devil said, “You deserve a nice dress like that – you look good in red.”
Geraldine answered, “Devil, you are tempting me bad – Get behind me Satan! – and tell me just how fine this dress looks from the back.”

Jesus admonishes Peter with these same words, “Get behind me, Satan.  You are not thinking as God does, but as human beings do.” 

Is this not the challenge for human beings – to think as God thinks while we struggle through this secular world? 
Is it possible – to live in this world and think as God does?

Each day we are challenged to think like God; in our families, in our workplace, in our politics, in our social relationships.  The secular world expects us to conform our faith and our beliefs to its expectations – often requiring and sometimes even legislating us to blot out God; keeping Him from our daily lives.

With such obstacles always before us, it is a great challenge to think like God in the everyday.  How do we reconcile the world’s expectations with our own Christian identity as we juggle family obligations, work and social pressures?

We do so by remembering the two greatest commandments: “Love God above all else and love one another as we would love ourselves”.  Living this way is to live as a disciple of Christ, -- to wear the name Christian; -- to live in this world, but to be from above; conducting our lives true to the Word of God; removing ourselves from secular world’s measures; viewing the world with God’s eyes -- by His measures.  Using the Word of God as the measure by which we live and make decisions; taking up our Cross, not as a burden of sorrows and sins, but as a banner of triumph and truth.

Jesus tells his disciples, “Whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself, take up his cross and follow me.  For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and that of the Gospel will save it.”

When we shoulder our cross – we stand tall – recognized as Christians, believers in the Word of God; -- standard bearers of God’s truth in the world. 

  • In His Word we find truth – as we pray, study and meditate on Christ’s teachings, His truth and His wisdom is revealed to us.
  • We see His truth in respect for all life – from conception to natural death – That each of us receives life as a precious gift from God.
  • We see His truth in the dignity of all mankind – we see each person as equal; a child of God who deserves the same love, respect and opportunities to life we each desire.
  • We see His truth in our oneness as a human family – we see everyone - everywhere as our brother and sister – that when one suffers we all suffer -- our local actions have global consequences; making us responsible for each other.
  • We see His truth in our treatment of the poor – that those with the least must have a share in God’s bounty.
  • We see His truth in His love for us and in His command to love one another – love, like God, is our alpha and omega.

There is great struggle and responsibility in living truly as disciples of Christ – bearing the cross of Christ; wearing the name Christian.  We have many forces working against us each and every day.  As disciples we are called to think, speak and act in the name of our Lord, Jesus Christ – bringing His Word of salvation to the world.
  • As disciples we know we can rely on God’s grace to give us strength and courage to stand up to evil and work for good.
  • As Christians, we stand together with Christ, against those who would diminish us; working to remove God from our lives. 
  • As believers in the Word made flesh, we resist the work of the evil-one who uses cunning and violence under the guise of worldliness and necessity to enrich themselves and oppress others.
  • As brothers and sisters of Christ, children of God, we are stewards of this world – reaping what we sow, -- let us sow the seeds of love, good will and peace; replacing the weeds of hate, malice and discord.
Let us be recognized as Christians by our lives in Christ Jesus.  Let our eyes be filled with the Truth and glory of God as we look to a life everlasting in His heavenly kingdom.  Let us put Satan and all his distractions behind us; -- taking up our cross, walking with Christ, losing our lives to this world, so we may gain salvation and life eternal in the glory of God’s Kingdom. ~Amen

Deacon Don

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