The passage we read from St Mark’s Gospel today is the very core of Mark’s story. St Mark, the author, does not necessarily intend to recall historically what happened on the first occasion Jesus was acknowledged as “Messiah”. He is really intending to describe what happens on every occasion when an individual person or a group of people, acknowledge their gift of faith. The real point of St Mark’s story today is that, when a person comes to believe that Jesus is divine (the Son of God), it is about accepting the challenge embodied in that belief.

What is this challenge? To embrace faith in Jesus, the real person of Jesus, is to embrace the truth that God actually became a human being in the person of Jesus. He is truly God and truly human. Hence, every human being shares in the divinity of Jesus, just as he shares in our humanity. This implies, therefore, that true believers not only have a profound respect for God but they also have a profound respect for every human being.

Hence, racism, bigotry, vengeance, exploitation, disrespect or violence against another person are anathemas for a true believer”. That’s the challenge!

Of course, for each of us the challenge to “renounce ourselves” so, that we can have unconditional respect for every other person, is difficult – that’s why it is a real challenge.
The invitation today is very simple. We are invited to do the best we can to treat each other with great respect. If we can do that at least, we are on the way to becoming a true believer.

Rev Fr Tom Stevens