6th Thursday in Ordinary Time
Epistle of St. James 2:1-9; Mark 8:27-33
Both of today’s readings from Scripture confront each of us, and in fact the whole Church, with decidedly radical challenges. Who can take seriously the words of our Lord that affirm “Did not God choose the poor in the world to be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom . . . but you show partiality to the rich.” Saint James surely was not reticent when he addressed the faithful of his time He seems to have encouraged later readers to preach the Gospel in the same spirit.
The history of monastic life and of the Church as a whole from early times provides numerous instances where such correction might have prevented evils from continuing and then spreading in the community of faithful. In our own Cistercian Order in France, to speak of one example, it was such gradual loss of fervor in their Benedictine community that led our monastic Founders to desire a more literal observance of the Benedictine Rule. Simplicity of life id confronted in our own times by the ever pressing ways of the surrounding world. When our Holy Father Pope Francis moved from the Vatican Papal apartment to a simple office in the nearby guesthouse he provided the Church with a stimulus to greater simplicity for all the faithful, especially for religious.
The words of our Lord spoken immediately after Peter made his fervent profession of faith in Jesus as the Messiah are also quite sobering. For when Peter objected to the assertion that God’s Anointed was to suffer and die our Lord became so angry that he told Peter to get out of his presence. He even called Peter s and tells him to get out of his sight. Jesus would have nothing to do with too human an attitude. Saint Mark was close to Peter when he wrote his Gospel; it is surely the case that Peter insisted that Mark record this reaction of Jesus, for he had learned his lesson . To belong to our Lord and Savior is to accept painful suffering and death.
May the grace of this Eucharist strengthen our resolve to adhere to our Savior in all circumstances, even when such fidelity leads to suffering and death.