In the Gospel Jesus asked his disciples a question: “Who do you say I am?” Peter answered: “The Christ of God.” It was the correct answer. However where is a prize for the correct answer? Why did Jesus give them strict orders not to tell anyone anything about this? By the way, do you know when Jesus usually gave strict orders? When he exorcised, when he cast out devils? An unusual way to award someone for the correct answer, isn’t it? However it was a necessary way to respond to Peter’s declaration, as the first Pope, other Apostles and their compatriots developed a wrong idea of the promised Christ. For them the Christ should be walking and sending fire and brimstone on those who wouldn’t listen and obey him. Next Sunday we will have an example of that when John and James proposed to bring fire from heaven upon a town that didn’t welcome Jesus. They did have a great faith at being able to do such devastation but Jesus rebuked them. Can you detect similarity to Jesus’ reaction to what Peter said today?
My Dear Sisters and Brothers! St Luke in today’s Gospel tells us that Jesus gave strict orders to his disciples. The Lord exorcised them like he did when in the desert Satan offered him power and splendour of this world. Those Apostles we meet in the Gospel today don’t look like the typical possessed. They don’t foam. They don’t make frightening noises. But they have a desire to be big people for sticking to Jesus. They want to control others. However it is not the way of Jesus. Jesus is on the way where he will suffer grievously, where he will be rejected by the elders and the chief priests and the scribes, where he will be put to death and where he will be raised up on the third day.
My Dear Friends, we are not different to those disciples. We too expect to benefit from following Jesus. We think that for all we have done for God we have right to demand things from him. Good things like health, stability in life, good relationships, pleasant holidays, etc. That’s why we too need to hear the words of the prophet Zechariah who proclaimed this message from God: “I will pour out a spirit of kindness and prayer.” The prayer mentioned here is a very specific prayer. It is supplication. The Hebrew word for supplication means “an olive branch wrapped with wool, or some kind of cloth, waved by a supplicant seeking peace or surrender.” Does it remind you anything? Maybe a white flag? When do soldiers wave a white flag? When they realise that they don’t have strength and means to continue fighting. When they say: I surrender. That is the prayer God promises we will utter one day. Supplication means that you come before God not to tell him what to do for you but to say that you have grown exhausted from fighting to design your life your way. That you now totally surrender to God.
If now you find in your heart some resistance to such a prayer I can only assure you that God will keep on looking for ways to instill, to pour out on us this spirit of grace and supplication so that we be given the glory of the Resurrection.
To finish let me ask you the simple question: Do you believe that Jesus is the Christ of God? The answer cannot be limited to words. It demands a lifestyle. So give your life to Jesus. Surrender to him.
Let me finish this homily with a prayer written by Blessed Charles de Foucauld which I pray every morning as soon as I get out of my bed:
Father, I abandon myself into your hands;
do with me what you will.
Whatever you may do, I thank you:
I am ready for all, I accept all.
Let only your will be done in me,
and in all your creatures –
I wish no more than this, O Lord.
Into your hands I commend my soul:
I offer it to you with all the love of my heart,
for I love you, Lord, and so need to give myself,
to surrender myself into your hands without reserve,
and with boundless confidence,
for you are my Father.