June 1, 2018
by Jay Carney
Creighton University's Department of Theology
click here for photo and information about the writer

Memorial of Saint Justin, Martyr
Lectionary: 351

1 Peter 4:7-13
Psalms 96:10, 11-12, 13
Mark 11:11-26

Praying Ordinary Time

Weekly Guide for Daily Prayer

Rediscovering Corporal Works of Mercy

What does it mean to follow Jesus? This question of discipleship first animated my desire to study theology, and it continues to animate my research and teaching. I would argue that it also animates today’s readings.

So what do we learn about Christian discipleship in today’s Scriptures? For Peter, “the end of all things is at hand.” These are dangerous words! Yet the expectation of Christ’s Parousia does not lead to apocalyptic craziness here in the early 2nd century. If anything, it seems to focus the mind, heart, and soul on core traits of Christian discipleship: we are called to be sober-minded, hospitable, joyful, and above all intense in our self-giving love for one another. This is a good blueprint for any day of my life, whether Jesus returns tomorrow or two millennia from now.

Mark’s gospel was written for disciples, and Mark’s Jesus so often embodies the gospel in action (and if necessary uses words). Yet today’s “action hero Jesus” is not the laughing Jesus of so many church basements, or the triumphant Risen Christ of so many church sanctuaries. This is the hungry Jesus who can’t be satiated. This is the angry Jesus who attacked the political economy of the Temple, likely sealing his ultimate fate on the Cross. This is the restless Jesus who reminds us of the "cost of discipleship," to echo Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s famous words. We need this Jesus to push us out of our comfort zones, especially those of us who are not suffering for our faith like the disciples in 1 Peter or today’s saint, Justin Martyr.   

And yet it’s easy to lose sight of the final takeaways in today’s gospel. We are not called to be action heroes but to be faithful followers. We are not called to do it ourselves but to trust in God. And we are not called to cast out but to forgive. May God help us to use this June to take one step forward on our path of discipleship.    

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