A reading from the Holy Gospel according to Luke
Once when Jesus was praying in solitude,
and the disciples were with him,
he asked them, “Who do the crowds say that I am?”
They said in reply, “John the Baptist; others, Elijah;
still others, ‘One of the ancient prophets has arisen.'”
Then he said to them, “But who do you say that I am?”
Peter said in reply, “The Christ of God.”
He rebuked them and directed them not to tell this to anyone.
He said, “The Son of Man must suffer greatly
and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests, and the scribes,
and be killed and on the third day be raised.”
– The Gospel of the Lord.
Reflection: In the First Reading (Ecclesiastes 3:1-11), we hear the very beautiful passage of a time for everything. The word “time” is associated with two Greek terms, “koinos” and “kairos”. The word “koinos” means the time of the world, the time people are used to. It is ordinary and extraordinary based on how people make decisions on each period of each day. However the word “kairos” is often described in the Scriptures as “God’s time”. There is an appointed time that God wills everything and allows many things to occur that will lead to a good benefit of many people. But skeptics would question if there is such thing as God, then why does he even allow evil to happen? Eventually the Reading from Ecclesiastes inserts that there is a time for goodness, but there is also a time for suffering. The end of the passage inserts an explanation to which God wills the time, that even if there’s so much war, hatred, conflicts, etc. happening around, there will also come peace, love, reconciliation, etc. In a while that we might experience nothingness or trials, but the Lord will always be there to guide us in our endurance to these problems with faith and perseverance, and at his time and in his will he will give us the comfort we need after our earthly toils. In the Gospel (Luke 9:18-22), Jesus asks his disciples at Caesarea Philippi of who do people say he is. They replied that many think of him as St. John the Baptist, Elijah, Jeremiah, or one of the ancient prophets that has gone back. But when he asks them of who do they say he is, St. Peter professes his faith that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God. The word “Christ” is also the same with “Messiah”. In fact the Greek term “Christus”, which means “The Anointed One”, defines how Jesus Christ is chosen by God the Father to be the awaiting Savior of the world. But the mindset of many of Christ’s followers and admirers is that of the oracles that he descending from the line of King David would come to restore the nation Israel against the Roman occupation. This they believe will happen when he enters Jerusalem triumphantly on a mighty horse, and then crowns himself as King. However the Lord decided to open himself up to them with a prediction that will occur concerning the Father’s will, and that is his Paschal Mystery (Suffering, Death, and Resurrection). Jesus tells us that he is not that kind of powerful warrior that will initiate a bloody instigation against those who are considered enemies, but he brings the message of love and mercy of God the Father. And this he fulfills by his willingness to undergo the Passion of the Cross in order that the salvation of the human race may be given to us, and that our faith in him may be strengthened. Both Readings teach us how we are to strengthen our relationship with God despite many sufferings. God does not rejoice in our daily trials that even innocent people deserve it. These sufferings have already became a part of human nature that it is natural for these things to happen. But they also serve as a challenge for us so strengthen our faith and fidelity in the Lord. As we recognize Jesus in our lives, let us make it a habit to offer even the little sacrifices to make benefit other people’s lives. At the point of his death, when he is sentenced to be hanged on the cistern at Nagasaki, our first Filipino Saint Lorenzo Ruiz prayed: “I am a Christian and I am ready to die. Even though I have a thousand lives, I would offer them to you, Lord.” St. Lorenzo Ruiz teaches us the value of sacrifice not in order to hurt ourselves even to the point of dying, but that we recognize the ultimate saving act of Christ to bring the message of goodness to all that will influence others to become more faithful to God even as they undergo their present trials and sufferings. And let us realize that the ultimate attainment after our earthly trials is eternal life in the Kingdom of Heaven.