Sunday, June 19, 2016

Looking Ahead

Father Perry D. Leiker, pastor
By Father Perry D. Leiker, pastor

Quote of the Week: “No one was created to be a slave or a beggar.”  — Dom Helder Camara

In Luke’s Gospel, immediately after Jesus feeds 5,000 people, this question about identity comes up: “Who do people say that I am?” 

For the reader, it seems a bit preposterous that everyone has not already reached the obvious conclusion. 

We the readers have figured it out. We didn’t even see the miracle; we only heard about it and are stunned — Jesus did what with five loaves and two fish? 

Nonetheless, this issue is raised by Jesus: “Who do people say that I am?” 

In response to this question there are various answers but only one person gets it right: Peter. 

“You are the Christ!” This coming to know who Jesus is was more than a title or a name. Jesus begins to reveal what must happen to “the Christ” — how he had to suffer and to die. 

This pathway would never be acceptable, could barely be understood in its revelation, but would explain and reveal much more as it was experienced by all. 

This pathway would lay bare and truly reveal not just the Christ but everyone one who was intimately connected with him. This pathway would reveal traitors. This pathway would reveal hidden agendas. This pathway would unveil fears and denials: “I don’t even know the man!” 

This pathway would challenge belief in utterly senseless and completely illogical testimonies: “He has been raised up! He is alive!” 

The command — “Tell no one about this” — certainly makes sense, for who would believe this? 

Jesus reveals who he is and what must be. This Gospel not only tells us about that moment of truth and allows us to share in it, this is truly a revelation of what must be for us who follow him. 

Following Jesus as disciple is no mere trifle or a fashionable thing to do. Rather, it is a total transformation of our lives. 

To be his disciple is to acknowledge the truth he is and was and gave to us. To be his disciple is to proclaim his truth that has become our own. To be his disciple is to follow in his footsteps. To be his disciple is to come to have the face of Christ. 

Understood through this revelation of Jesus, suffering and cross are an integral part of his identity and, therefore, ours. 

But how could that not be so? To be seekers of peace among bullies and enemies, locally and globally, surely this brings suffering and cross! 

To promote justice for all when a more equal sharing means less of the pie for one accustomed to eating the whole thing, surely this brings suffering and cross. 

To mourn and show mercy in a world where greed, avarice and jealousy bring us constantly into the courts armed with arguments and lawyers, surely this brings suffering and cross. 

This revelation by Jesus of his identity and purpose is central to him and to us.

Through it, we discover the road that we will walk.   

Father Perry D. Leiker is pastor of St. Bernard Church. Reach him at (323) 255-6142, Ext. 112; email Follow Father Perry on Twitter: @MrDeano76.

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