Only Jesus, Always Jesus

24 September 2021, Friday of the 25th Week in the Ordinary Time

Commemoration Day of Mary, the Help of Christians

Lk 9:18-22

I think this is the 2nd time within this month that we read and listened to the same Gospel story.  Two weeks ago, we had St Mark as the storyteller.  Today, we have St Luke.  Both have the same flow.  First, Jesus asked them 2 questions.  One led them speculate about Jesus.  The 2nd question made them reflect on their personal relationship with Jesus.  Second, Peter gave a correct answer, “You are the Christ!”  And third, Jesus told His disciples that being the Christ, He had to suffer, be rejected, killed and on the 3rd be raised. 

But what is something strange in today’s Gospel story?  For me, it is the opening statement of the Gospel narrative that says, “Once when Jesus was praying in solitude, and the disciples were with him…” (Lk 9:18) The Gospel according to St Luke is also known as the Gospel of Prayer.  And being the opening statement, it sets the tone of the story.  Why start with prayer?

Jesus knew that His disciples did have great expectations as to who a messiah should be: someone who has power, position and prestige in order to topple the oppressive Roman rule.  But for Jesus, the key in order to bring them to His own identity and mission as the Messiah is the cross.  Yes, Jesus is the Messiah but a suffering Messiah. Human as we are, we avoid the cross, crises and even to be at the crossroads.  We do not want pain and suffering.  We shun away from trials and tribulations. But they are inevitable.  And so, what can we learn from this Gospel?

First, Jesus invites us to pray.  Prayer is not all about asking, begging and presenting to God all our requests.  Prayer is all about being in a relationship with the Lord.  In this relationship, the Lord prepares us by giving us the graces that we need in order to carry our crosses with patience, to weather through many crises and to clarify our values when we are at the crossroads. 

Second, Jesus invites us to make our life experiences, both good and not so good, as materials for prayer.  Many of us find ourselves not productive when we pray because we want to do everything.  But the cliché that says, “When one works, he/she works. But when one prays, God works” teaches us to rely on God.  When we look back after experiencing those life’s challenges, we can discover that we have overcome them not because we’re good, talented in problem solving and resourceful but because Jesus stayed with, walked with us and carried us through.

Third, Jesus calls us to be pray-ers.  To accomplish God’s plan in our lives and in the world, we just have to believe and to trust in the ways of God.  In this way, we become like Jesus who, in the praying said, “Your Kingdom come”, he is teaching us that in letting God be God, even if this life seems to be like a roller coaster ride, we speak from our hearts to His heart, “Lord, help me in letting go of my ego.”

Today, we commemorate Mary, the “Help of Christians”.  We ask our mother and our help to bring to Jesus not only the desires of our hearts and the petitions of all those who are entrusted to our prayers but our openness and willingness to see Jesus more clearly, to love Jesus more dearly and to follow Jesus more closely, day by day.  If we are carrying crosses, having crises and are at the crossroads, let us speak to our Mother and Help, “Mama Mary, give us Jesus.  Only Jesus.  Always Jesus.”  Amen.

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