Homilette for Friday, September 26, 2008

Friday of the Twenty-fifth Week in Ordinary Time

(Luke 9:18-22)

Do we really mean what when we say in the “Our Father,” “Thy will be done”? Sure, as long as that will is peace in the world and bread on the table, we want it. But how about when God’s will implies our having to suffer, are we still open to it? In the gospel today Jesus does not shrink from accepting God’s will, no matter the costs.

Jesus is praying. Such a posture in Luke’s gospel signals a significant event about to take place. Then he asks his apostles how the people consider him. They respond, some as “John the Baptist,” an Elijah figure; others as “Elijah” himself, who was to reappear before the coming of the Christ (Messiah); and still others as “one of the ancient prophets” in the role of Elijah. Jesus in the eye of the public, then, is only the forerunner of whom he really is.

Then Jesus asks the apostles their own opinion. After witnessing his exorcisms and cures as well as his transfiguration, Peter can reply without reservation on behalf of all. For the apostles Jesus is the Christ who has come to establish God’s kingdom on earth. This is good news, of course, but it possesses a tragic underside. In the process of establishing the kingdom of God Jesus will suffer greatly and be killed. There is no way to avoid this destiny. It “must” happen because it is God’s will.

When we face serious troubles in our lives that seem to be God’s will for us, we should recall Jesus’ conformity to that will in this gospel. He does not whine, much less despair. Knowing that God’s will is ultimately benign, Jesus seems only to pray with more confidence, “Our Father,...Thy will be done.”