Saturday, September 22, 2018

Pala: Shookt and woke


Sunday Gospel Mark 8: 27-35

“WHO do you say I am?” Jesus is asking you. How much do you know who Jesus is? In our Gospel, Jesus is not quizzing us. He is not testing us. I believe, Jesus wants to sincerely know who He is to us. He gives us that freedom to tell him who He is. Ano ba ako para sa iyo? This is just like asking your friend, who am I to you? Jesus is personally asking you today.

When the disciples were asked by Jesus, they gave Him different answers like “John the Baptist, Elijah; and others, one of the prophets.” He asked them again, “But who do you say that I am?” And finally Peter answered him, “You are the Christ.”

Here I believe is what Pope Francis asserted in his conversation with Rabbi Skorka about God that you cannot just hear about God from others, you have to see and experience God himself. Pope Francis commented, “I would tell the people of today to seek the experience of entering into the intimacy of their hearts, to know the experience, the face of God. That is why I love what Job says after his difficult experience and the dialogues: ‘By hearsay I had heard of you, but now my eye has seen you.’ The Living God is he that you may see with your eyes within your heart.”

The gospel today is placed between two “healing of the blind” stories: Jesus healing a blind man at Bethsaida (8:22-26) and another blind man, Bartimaeus, at Jericho (10:46-25). During this period, Jesus is struggling with disciples who are blind to the truth that he would teach them. “Having eyes, don’t you see? Having ears, don’t you hear?” he asked (8:18). “Don’t you understand, yet?” (8:21). In his great confession (v. 29), Peter shows that he has caught a glimpse of the truth but it was still distorted.

Although Jesus wants to know personally who He is to you, Jesus also wants to correct our images of Him. Jesus had to teach the disciples who He is, “the Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders and the chief priests and the scribes and be killed, and after three days rise again...If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.”

I imagine Peter with eyes wide open and shookt at the words of Jesus. Shookt that means shaken up in Millenial language. Yes, I would be shookt knowing that the whole time the person I have been following is now telling me that he is not the kind of Messiah, the Savior I believed Him to be. Now He is telling me he is going to die and worst I, too will have to deny, suffer, and lose my life in order to follow him. Peter’s vision and faith and probably most of ours is blurry - but on the way. We know who Jesus is but cannot accept Him as He is because it will demand some drastic changes in us. Peter is correct when he says that Jesus is the Messiah, but still his understanding of who the Messiah - influenced by the political expectations of the time, does not correspond to the type of Messiah Jesus really is.

If you are socmed user, you probably encountered posts or tweets about current events with the tag #staywoke. Woke is a slang for awake and has come to mean socially aware. There’s a lot of things going on in the Philippines today. Let us open our eyes, the eyes of our heart. Get to know yourself. What is going on around you? Are you not shookt? Form your own opinion. Stand by it and act on it. Who is Jesus to you? What is He asking you to do at this time of your life?

We pray. Father heal us of our blindness. Even when our eyes are wide open, we fail to see and refuse to see what is there before us. We fail to see you in the victims of extra-judicial killings - young people falling into the trap of drug addiction or of poverty but neglected by society. We fail to listen and act for justice on behalf of the victims of abuse in the Church. Open the eyes of our heart, Lord. Shookt us. Keep us stay woke.