Sunday, Sep 13; Twenty Fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time

After reading the philosopher Martin Heidegger’s 1955 address, “Gelassenheit” (German for “letting-go”) Henri Nouwen  notices  two approaches to life highlighted in that address:    one that is calculating and the other reflective.  According to Heidegger, the calculating approach is the “greatest danger of our time” because it shows an indifference towards reflection; the incapacity to live from a deeper place.  What’s at stake is the task to “keep alive our reflective thinking…openness to the mystery of things.” This thinking evolved out of the inhumanity and tragic indifference of war: the decimation of seven million Jews, along with priests, ministers, religious, gypsies and homosexuals during the Nazi regime.

This capacity to reflect is seen in Mary, mother of Jesus, who “treasured all these things and reflected on them in her heart.” (Luke 2:19)  Jesus, too, had the capacity to live from that deeper place where reflection is born.

This capacity to reflect unfolds in the Gospel this 24th Sunday in Ordinary Time (Mark 8:27-35).  After much soul searching and reflection, Jesus begins to teach the disciples how he “must suffer greatly and be rejected.”  Jesus is able to delve beneath God’s mysterious design for his life and see with courage that it involves suffering; suffering unto death.  Somehow Jesus finds the strength to believe that who he is will not end in death.  After three days, he will be raised.   

Reflect on the suffering in your own lives.  It seems, when caught in its maelstrom that it will never end. Yet, somehow we survived and still are here.  Never the same really, though wiser because of it; more open to God as the one constant amid life’s twists and turns.  I can only speak for myself.    Yet, I do believe the ground beneath our feet is more common than we sometimes realize

The anguish of suffering I see in those refugees flooding into Europe seems endless.  Yet, somehow they trust it will have an end.  By making this arduous trek into the unknown with its dangers, they keep alive their hope for a new life, and trust in a God who will bring them through.  They want only to be freed   from the calculating machinations of war and a Syrian despot.  That is a hope that cannot die, seen reflected in Jesus and for us who believe.  And these refugees see such hope reflected in the eyes of their children and companions, I would imagine.  This keeps them wanting more, moving into the unknown as indifference gives way to life.  Is this not nature’s lesson when winters’ deadness gives way to the blossoming of spring.   We are made for more and we see that reflected in this crisis. It’s a moving tribute to the tenacity of hope, despite the deadly and calculating designs of others.

 In the Gospel, Peter “rebukes” Jesus for such talk; this new twist to his teaching.  Calculating a way out of such thinking, Peter voices his protest.    And Jesus calls him “Satan” because it’s the same deceitful tactic he confronted in the desert while he hungered and as Satan gnawed away at his bare-bone trust.    Peter does so, not out of love, but fear.  As an accomplice of Jesus such suffering just might happen to him and he didn’t bargain for that when he left all and followed.  He did not   calculate life turning out this way.  He may have left his nets behind, yet he continues to cling to the past with its wishful thinking.  He fears going deeper and living life from Christ’s perspective; from a naked trust in God who—somehow— always brings us through.  Once upon a time, Peter was mesmerized by what he saw reflected in Jesus’ eyes and near the sea.    Now he’s unwilling to make such reflection his own.  Peter won’t risk faith by jumping into the deep; won’t live with such openness to God: that Life beneath life.   Eventually, he does when, following the Resurrection and due to the timing of grace, he reflects on all that’s happened in a new light.  It is then he finally let go and makes Jesus’ vision his own.

Pope Francis said:  “Our challenge is to enter into Christ’s perspective.”  What is our perspective when it comes to life and to God?  Are we calculating, or are we reflective?


Father Tim Clark, Pastor

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