Watching Jesus Isn’t Enough

User's Guide to Sunday, June 19

(photo: Daniel Ibáñez/Catholic News Agency)

Sunday, June 19, is the 12th Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year C). Mass Readings: Zechariah 12:10-11, 13:1; Psalms 62:2-6, 8-9; Galatians 3:26-29; Luke 9:18-24

Today’s readings remind us that it isn’t enough to correctly identify Jesus, believe in him and admire him. It isn’t even enough to proclaim him. He wants more.

“Who do the crowds say that I am?” he asks the apostles in the Gospel. Peter answers correctly: “The Christ of God.”

But Jesus immediately commands the apostles “not to tell this to anyone.” He doesn’t want their words until he first has their witness.

He tells them that he must suffer greatly, be killed and raised from the dead, and that these events of his life are more than a great story he wants the apostles to tell to the world to explain him. These events will form the pattern he wants their own lives to take. He wants them to deny themselves, carry a cross like his and lose their lives for his sake.

For us, that means not only going to church on Sundays, but dying to ourselves and the consumerist, entertainment-obsessed society every day. That means not just learning the truths of Jesus, but teaching them with our lives.

It means not just gazing lovingly at Jesus Christ crucified, but joining his sacrifice.

All of it is simply not possible for us to do on our own.

In the first reading, we hear the prophecy of Zechariah that describes the Christian religion more than 500 years before Christ. He says God will “pour out … a spirit of grace and petition,” which makes it all possible. Then he gives us a vision of our Catholic churches featuring the crucifix as a centerpiece and says, “They shall look on him whom they have pierced.”

In other words, according to Zechariah, God is not impressed if we honor the crucifix by looking at it; but he comes to us to transform us if we mourn his Son and enter into his sacrifice.

The second reading specifies, “All of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ.” 

Baptism, in other words, isn’t us acknowledging Jesus; it is us joining him. We join him so closely that “There is neither Jew nor Greek; there is neither slave nor free person; there is not male and female — for you are all one in Christ Jesus.”

He wants us to live each day with the simplicity and subtlety of Jesus Christ.

Tom Hoopes is writer in residence at Benedictine College in Atchison, Kansas.

His book What Pope Francis Really Said is available for preorder at Amazon.com.

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The Earth is Not Our Mother

“The main point of Christianity was this: that Nature is not our mother: Nature is our sister. We can be proud of her beauty, since we have the same father; but she has no authority over us; we have to admire, but not to imitate.”—G.K. Chesterton, Orthodoxy