Friday, September 25, 2009

The Son of Man Must Suffer Greatly And Be Rejected.

Reading 1

Haggai 2:1-9

In the second year of the reign of Darius, King of Persia, on the twenty-first day of the seventh month (that would be October 17, on our calendar) the word of the LORD came through the prophet Haggai. He was told to speak to Zerubbabel, the Governor of Judah, and to Jeshua, the High Priest, and to the remnant of the people.

“Who is left among you that saw this house in its former glory?” he asked them. The glory of the Temple of Jerusalem had been gone for seven decades, since Nebuchadnezzar, King of Babylon, had destroyed it. “How does it look to you now?” The old people who remembered the temple as it was did not think the new temple was as good as the original.

Then the prophet addressed the word of the LORD to the High Priest. “Be strong, Jeshua son of Jehozadak. Be strong, all you people of the land,” says the LORD, “and work, for I am with you. This is the pact I made with you when you came out of Egypt, and my spirit continues to be with you. Do not be afraid!”

The word of the LORD continued: “In a little while, I will once more shake the heavens and the earth, the sea and the dry land. I will shake the nations, and the desire of the nations will come, and fill this house with glory.” The LORD Almighty said, “The glory of the new temple will be greater than the glory of the former temple. And in this place, I shall grant peace.”

As Christians, we recognize that this prophesy speaks of the coming of the Messiah, the Lord Jesus. He glorified the Temple when he was brought there to be circumcised. The glory of the Temple was greater because Jesus preached there. He glorified it again when he chased the moneychangers away, “You have made the House of God a den of thieves!” The last words of the prophecy are these “In this place, I will give you peace, says the LORD of hosts.” But here, Jesus is not speaking of the Temple in Jerusalem, but of the Temple of his body, which will be offered up as a victim for our sins. The sacrifice of his human life in atonement for our sins is the source of our salvation, and of our peace.

Luke 9:18-22

One day, when Jesus was praying alone, the apostles came to him. ‘Who do the people say that I am?’ he asked them. They answered, ‘Some people are saying that you are John the Baptist. Other people say that you are Elijah. Other people say that one of the *prophets of long ago has come back to life’. Jesus said to them, ‘What about you? Who do you say that I am?’ Peter answered, ‘You are the Messiah whom God has sent’. Then Jesus gave them strict orders that they were not to tell anyone. He also told them, ‘The Son of Man must suffer many things. The *elders, chief priests and the teachers of the law will refuse to accept him. People will kill him. But three days later God will raise him to life’.

The questions Jesus asks the Apostles are two-fold, and the answers to each question are different. The answer to Jesus’ question “Who do people say that I am?” reflect the different perspectives people had about him. Some thought that Jesus was John the Baptist returned from the dead. Others said that he was Elijah, whose return from the abode of the dead would be a sign that the coming of the Messiah was at hand. When Jesus asked them who he is, the answer was quite different, and on the mark. It was Peter, who said, “The Christ of God”, in Hebrew, “the Messiah”.

The response to Peter’s profession of faith in Jesus is this: “The Son of Man must suffer greatly and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests and the scribes. And he will be killed, but on the third day, he will rise again.” The expression “Son of Man” is a title of power and of honor. Here Jesus uses the title for himself. He said that he “must” suffer. The passion and death of Jesus were a necessary part of God’s plan. It is his willing sacrifice of his own life which opened the gates of Heaven for all of us.


Sarah in the tent said...

Haggai: So similar to Simeon's words in the Nunc Dimittis.

Yesterday's reading had King Herod Jr. asking the same question as the true King of the Jews asks today. I find it strange that, despite the messianic yearnings of the times, the people are focusing on the dead prophets of the past, rather than the one who is to come. This probably says something about human psychology!

Fr. John L. Sullivan said...

The words of the prophet Haggai are reflected in the words of Jesus. Jesus asks in today's gospel, "Who do people say that I am?" and the disciples answer "Some say Elijah or one of the ancient prophets." This message of Jesus says a great deal about human psychology: It says that some people are blind and deaf to the truth that the ancient prophets in ancient times, Jesus in his time on earth, the apostles in the early age of the Church, and those who preach and teach the Good News in our own day are all speaking the same message: the Eternal Word of God! Those who have ears, let them hear!