Psalm 43:1, 2, 3, 4
What happens before and what happens after a particular Gospel
passage are important. In each of the Synoptic Gospels, Jesus asks
the Apostles, “But who do you say that I am?” In today’s reading from
Luke, the Twelve had returned from their mission of preaching the good news
and curing diseases in various villages. The multiplication of loaves
followed upon their return. The Apostles were undoubtedly on a “spiritual
After Peter’s profession of faith, the first prediction by Jesus of his suffering
and death took place. Such revelation did not compute, as it were,
with the disciples. Theirs was a triumphant Messiah. Suffering
was not included in their Messianic expectations.
Jesus asks the same question of every Christian. Who do I say that
Jesus is for me? Jesus is certainly savior. He has triumphed
over sin and death. What part does suffering play in my relationship
with Jesus, aside from seeking relief from it?
Just as the suffering and death of Jesus has been redemptive for all of humanity,
so can physical, psychological or spiritual suffering in our lives be valuable.
After the pain of whatever nature has been relieved and objective reflection
is possible, then the question ought be asked, “What can I learn from this
experience?” What can I learn about myself, about others, about God’s
presence and working in my life? At that point, suffering is of value
and provides growth.
The key to such growth is given by Jesus in his “praying in seclusion.”
Socrates opined that the unexamined life is not worth living. We can
only imagine the extent of reflection by the disciples following Pentecost.
We too, aided by the Holy Spirit, must engage in ongoing response to that
searching question of Jesus to each of us and to any other question he might
ask of us.