WSC Reflection for September 12, 2021

24th Sunday in Ordinary Time (Cycle B, Year I)

Community Word: Faith opens our hearts to witness to God’s love and saving grace.
Theme: We witness to God’s love and saving grace when we deny ourselves for the sake of the Gospel.
Promise: “…whoever loses his life for me will save it.” (Mk 8:35b)

In this Sunday’s gospel, Peter proclaims Jesus as Messiah but rejected the thought that the Lord would suffer and die. Jesus reprimands Peter that God’s ways are not human ways, “You are thinking not as God does, but as human beings do” (Mk 8:33), and that God’s ways include the demand for self-renunciation. From this scene, we can learn that Jesus is exhorting us to accept God’s mysterious ways and find peace in accepting and doing His will.
As true people of God, we need to pray and persevere in following God’s will in our lives. God’s word tells us that faith alone cannot save us; we have to make our faith work through our actions. As said in the letter of James, “faith without works is dead” (Jas 2:17). God brought us into this world so that we will be able to participate in spreading Jesus’ call to spread His mission.
Following Jesus Christ entails self-denial and cross-bearing. It involves dying to self, an absolute surrender to God’s will. To deny oneself means to say “no” to self, and “yes” to God. It is actively choosing not to have or do something in order to make room for God’s Kingdom to grow in and through one’s life. Sacrificing yourself is to be deprived of, physically, mentally or emotionally, or to withhold a basic need that inhibits you from fulfilling God’s purpose in your life. It is what Christians pray for in the Lord’s Prayer – “Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven,” (Mt 6:10). Only God’s grace through the power of the Holy Spirit enables us to reject ungodliness and worldly passion and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives especially in this present age. Through self-denial, our life in Christ is strengthened. It grows and develops more and more and Christ now becomes our life. It is a life that we can declare, as St. Paul did, “It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me,” (Gal 2:20).
Self-denial through fasting is one of the disciplines that Jesus practiced Himself. Selflessly giving to the poor and needy is a form of self-denial that Jesus encouraged. Likewise, living modestly rather than indulging in excessive luxury is an area where believers can exercise self-denial. Perhaps the most significant way we practice self-denial is in the extent that we love and esteem our brothers and sisters in Christ. Self-denial is the basis for Christian fellowship and service within the church. Denying yourself means seeking the good of others before looking out for yourself. When you are willing to sacrifice your time, energy, rights, position, reputation, privileges, comforts, and even your very life for the sake of Christ, you exemplify what it means to deny yourself.
Jesus warns us that “whoever wants to save his life will lose it.” If our life is precious to us and we go at any length to protect, save, comfort and be pleased with it, in the end there is actually nothing we can do to hold on to it. The word of God tells us, “What profit is there for one to gain the whole world and forfeit his life?” (Lk 9:25). Paradoxically, the Lord does promise us this consolation when we embrace our crosses – “…whoever loses his life for me will save it.” (Mk 8:35b). Truly, the call is tough, but the reward of eternal life is matchless.

Father God, too often we put ourselves and our needs first. Transform us and allow us to grow into disciples who seek You first. Instead of following our own selfish desires, help us fix our eyes on You and follow Your will. Give us the understanding to know that even in temptation, we need to learn to deny our own desires. Help us to give more attention to things that lead us to You and to our eternal salvation. Look upon us, Lord, and give us the grace to serve You with all our hearts, to take up our crosses and follow You. May we come to embrace the power of Your love and the forgiveness which You give and teach. In Jesus name. Amen.

Reflection Guide Questions:

  1. What concrete works and actions bear witness to my faith?
  2. How do I view practicing self-denial? Am I willing to sacrifice convenience and comfort to follow Jesus?

This Week’s Daily Mass Reading Guide:
September 12, 2021 (Sun) – Is 50:5-9a/ Ps 116:1-2,3-4,5-6,8-9/Jas 2:14-18/Mk 8:27-35
September 13, 2021 (Mon) – 1 Tim 2:1-8/ Ps 28:2, 7, 8-9/ Lk 7:1-10
September 14, 2021 (Tue) – Nm 21:4-9/Ps 78:1-2, 34-35,36-37,38/Phil 2:6-11/Jn 3:13-17
September 15, 2021 (Wed) – 1 Tm 3:14-16/Ps 111:1-2, 3-4, and 5-6/Lk 7:31-35
September 16, 2021 (Thurs) – 1 Tm 4:12-16/Ps 111:7-8, 9, 10/Lk 7:36-50
September 17, 2021 (Fri) – 1 Tm 6:2c-12/Ps 49:6-7, 8-10, 17-18, 19-20/Lk 8:1-3
September 18, 2021 (Sat) – 1 Tm 6:13-16/Ps 100:1-2, 3, 4, 5/Lk 8:4-15

“Ignorance of the Bible is ignorance of Christ. Read your Bible daily!”


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