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Faith Works!

If anyone wants to be a follower of mine, let him renounce himself and take up his cross and follow Me
Isaiah 50:5-9; Psalm 116:1-6,8-9; James 2:14-18; Mark 8:27-35

Sermon Week Twenty-Fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time Cycle B

Scripture Summary Mk. 8:34

Willie Loman is the name of the principal character in Arthur Miller’s famous play, “Death of a Salesman.” Willie Loman’s ambition in life was to be a super-salesman and, at the same time, popular and well-liked. But in pursuing these goals, his rising star began to fade. His sales were dropping off. He was beginning to be regarded as a “has-been.” No longer popular, his old circle of friends got smaller and smaller. Ultimately, he lost the respect of the son who was his pride and joy. Feeling he had nowhere to turn, his life became hopeless and aimless and meaningless. In the depths of despair, Willie committed suicide. In the final scene of the play, the lights focus on Willie’s wife and two sons who are standing at his graveside on an otherwise bare and dark stage. There is an eerie silence. Then, one son says, “Poor guy, he didn’t know who he was.”

In today's Gospel Lesson, Jesus asks the disciples, "Who do people say that I am?" The Apostle Peter answers, "You are the Christ" (Mk. 8:29). Peter was identifying Christ as the Messiah of God, his Lord and Savior. That's Faith! Then Jesus went on to teach the disciples that He "must suffer many things." He described His mission on earth as sacrificial. And He made it clear that the same would be true in the mission of the disciples. "If anyone wants to be a follower of mine, let him renounce himself," Jesus said. Let him "take up his cross and follow Me" (Mk. 8:34). And that's works!

It is not a matter, on the one hand, of saying "You are the Christ" and on the other hand taking up your cross. Unless you are living your faith, you are going around in circles. Faith and works must pull together, in this sense. They are inseparable.

Today's Reading is the very core of the Gospel of Mark. The followers have perceived, through the action of God among them, the Messiah. Now they learn the cost of such an act of faith. Their faith will bring them not [...]

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