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September 13, 1991     The Message
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September 13, 1991
 

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' ._September 13, 1991 The Message -- for Catholics of Southwestern Indiana Commentary 5 Peter's profession of faith: What kind of Messiah Gospel Commentary for Sunday, Sept. 15, 1991, Twenty-fourth Sunday of Ordinary Time, Cycle B: Mark 8:27-35 After the dispute between Jesus and the reli- gious leadership recalled in the gospel reading of September 1, Jesus left his native land and worked in non-Jewish, i.e. Gentile territory. Today's gospel still finds him in Gentile territory. Jesus had just warned his disciples to beware of the teaching of the religious leadership of his peo- ple. As usual in Mark they did not understand. Significantly, Mark now adds the gradual cure of a blind man. Mark implies iCs going to take some time to get through their thick skulls. Jesus and the disciples continue their tour of pagan country. Mark is, of course, writing for his COmmunity of about the year 70 A.D. If they are to .beware of the teaching of the scribes and Phar- Isees, where are they to turn? Mark answers this question in today's gospel episode. Jesus asks the disciples what people are saying about him. After Various answers Peter replies for all of them: "You are the Messiah." That is the answer. They are to turn to the teachings of Jesus. He is the one who has been annointed by the Spirit and sent to them with God's word. Then Jesus tries to explain to the disciples that the concept of "messiah" is to be understood in a certain way. At least one view of the time Was that the Messiah would be a religious-politi- cal figure who would restore Jewish indepen- dence from Rome, perhaps even restore the Da- vidic throne or line of rulers descended from King David. And so Jesus begins to teach them how he is to suffer many things, to be rejected by official Judaism, to be killed and after three days rise again. Now Peter steps in with his accustomed "foot in mouth syndrome." He pulls Jesus aside and strongly reprimands him for talking such non- sense. Jesus turns on Peter with the famous words: "Get behind me, Satan! You are not on the side of God but of men." Mark now adds several sayings of Jesus indicating that his mission as Messiah is a mission of self-denial and of self-giv- ing. Anyone who wishes to follow Jesus must fol- low in that path even to the point of losing one's life for Jesus and the Gospel. Every author is influenced in his writings by his own experience and the experience of the community for which he is writing. Mark is no exception to this general principle. His Christian community, probably the Church at Rome, has just been through a violent persecution in which Peter himself was martyred. Some members of the Church had betrayed others. They did not accept the way of the cross demanded by Jesus. To them Mark was saying in the words of Jesus: "Get be- hind me, Satan! You are not on the side of God but of men." The betrayal was the work of Satan. The words, "Get behind me," are meant as a command to fall in line where a disciple should be, to fol- low Jesus on the way of the cross. The betrayers, the "Satans," can return as Peter did. Not only did he return to discipleship following Jesus but eventually gave his life "for my sake and the gospel." Matthew has taken over from Mark this episode and added a long promise to Peter. In ef- fect making Peter the teacher of the Church. We are not concerned with Matthew's addition here but with the Marcan version. Peter is presented by Mark to the Church of all time as a model of faith in Jesus. Even after his profession of faith he did not yet understand and was strongly told to fall in line. This he undoubtedly did but not yet. First he fell even deeper and publicly de- nied, even cursed Jesus. Only after he had fallen to such a depth did he repent when he realized that Jesus had told him the truth. Mark writes of Peter: "He broke down and wept." Who of us cannot but see ourselves in that figure of loud and public profession of faith in Jesus. But like Peter, that profession may not have been based on a proper understanding of Jesus and his way of suffering. Like Peter we af- firm our faith, we boast about it, we waver and we fall. Perhaps only after reaching the depths of separation from him do we begin to realize the truth of the words of Jesus: "Get behind me! Fall in line!" Readings for September 15, 1991: Isaiah 50:4-9; James 2:14-18 Vocation themes developed for grades 5 - 12 A letter has been sent to Pastors, associates, DREs and principals encouraging them to have speakers come in to Speak on vocations. The letter Was sent Sept. 2 by Father Uavid Fleck, vocation direc- tor. The Vocation Office of the Diocese of Evansville and the vocation directors of various religious communities repre- sented in the diocese have co- operated in the past to help find speakers for schools, re- ligious education programs and for adult groups in the parishes. AUTO * HOME BUSINESS, FARM INSURANCE SERVICES SINCE 1913 INSURANCE AGENCY _ 464-5993 JAMES A. NIEMEIER Mater Dei Class of q59 "Where customers send their friends!" i Open nightly til 9 p.m. hot & S00ns, Inc. OLD US 231 SOUTH - JASPER, IN - 482-2222 1-800-937-USA1 00eral Four COnvenient Locations ZIEMER-SHEARS EAST CHAPEL 800 S. HEBRON AVE. "We feel the program was very successful," wrote Fa- ther Fleck. "Thus we are again taking upon ourselves the task of finding speakers for as many of your requests as we can fill." In the letter, Father Fleck outlined a series of vocation themes to be used in grades ,5-12: -- Grade 5, Listening to Washington Continued from page 4 control medical decisions that affect their lives." But the U.S. bishops' Secre- tariat for Pro-Life Activities in a letter to lawmakers prior to their vote said the measure assumes that "all advance di- rective laws are good laws, regardless of their partlcular content," and ignores that some "are clearly biased in the direction of withdrawal of treatment." "Frankly I think the law was being passed in the wake of media blitz of the (Nancy) Cruzan case, telling people they'd better sign statements or they will be aggressively overtreated against their will," Richard Doerflinger, the secretariat's associate di- rector for policy develop- ment, said in a Sept. 5 inter- view. Miss Cruzan, who was in a permanent vegetative state for God. -- Grade 6, Sister, Brother, Priest. -- Grade 7, Vocation -- Call. -- Grade 8, Leadership -- Models of Leadership. -- Freshman, Lifestyles -- Religious Life and Priest- hood. -- Sophomore, Decisions. -- Junior, Life Choices -- several years following a car accident, died last December after a long court battle to stop her feeding. Pennsylvania and Nebraska currently have no laws re- garding advance directives, but lawmakers there will face the question in the fall and next January, respectively. In Washington state, Catholic health care facilities will face a dilemma if voters a. pprove Initiative 119 in November. The initiative would legalize "aid-in-dying" as a "medical service" to be performed by a physician on request from patients suffer- ing a terminal illness that will result in death within six months. Serge Gregory, spokesman for Providence Medical Cen- ter in Seattle, operated by the Sisters of Providence, said the new federal regulation would require the hospital to Hi-Tech Sheet Metal Inc. I Residential, Industrial &.Commercial Heating & Cooling 1 Installation Sales & Service I 422-9242 i Operated by Michael and Patricia Koch 2210 N.Grand Ave., Evansville I II Married, Single, Priesthood or Religious Life. -- Senior, Using our Tal- ents. Father Fleck said that les- son plans on the themes were developed-by the various vo- cations directors and his of- rice in 1989. Use of the lesson plans, he said, allow for a progressive development of the vocation theme for the different grade levels provide information on a state-approved procedure with which it disagrees and which it would not perform. It will be "a can of worms" if, for example, a cancer pa- tient were admitted for chemotherapy and later his condition worsened so that he requested to be put out of misery. Would it be ethical, Gregory asked, for the Catholic hospital to transfer him to another facility for the procedure when the hospital itself could not carry it out? Dominican Father Kevin O'Rourke, a prominent ethi- cist in St. Louis and co-au- thor of a booklet that pro- vides the Catholic perspective on treatment de- cisions, said the new law is "in general a good idea. It helps people overcome the bureaucracy inherent in con- temporary medical care. However it doesn't solve all problems about what is ap- propriate health care." But, he said, decisions on medical treatment cannot l)e separated from the "deeper, richer fabric" of what life is all about.