Week 6 of Ordinary Time, Thursday – 20th February — Gospel: Mark 8,27-33
The Way of Jesus
Peter’s confession of faith is the turning point in the Gospel, which is signified by a geographical turn. Up to this point, Jesus has been teaching and healing throughout Galilee and the surrounding areas. But now he begins a journey to Jerusalem that he knows will lead to the culminating events of his life. Mark highlights Jesus’ travelogue with a great theme “on the way”. Beginning with this verse, “on the way” occurs nine times in chapters 8-12 (8,27; 9,33-34; 10,17.32.52; 12,14). This phrase designates that the “way of the Lord” proclaimed by John the Baptist at the outset of the Gospel (1,2-3) is being fulfilled in Jesus’ going to Jerusalem. “On the way” Jesus asks for a judgement from the disciples. By questioning them about what people thought about him, Jesus opened up a way to teach them the true nature of his mission (8,31). With the theme of “the way”, Mark once again evokes the Old Testament as the backdrop that illuminates the meaning of Jesus’ actions. God had led his people on “the way” out of Egypt into the promised land (Ex 13,21-22). Later, during the Babylonian exile, Isaiah prophesied that God would prepare a “way” for his people to return home to Zion (Jerusalem) with great joy (Is 35,8-10; 40,3-5; 62,10-12). Similarly, in this journey to Jerusalem, the disciples learn that the way to sharing in Jesus’ glory is by first following him on the way of the cross, i.e., in his passion, death and resurrection. As they continue to follow Jesus on the way to Jerusalem, the disciples also learn about “the way” of Christian discipleship. For the early church this theme of the Christian life as a journey, or pilgrimage, was so central that “the way” became the first name for Christianity (Acts 9,2; 18,25-26).