Mark 8: 27-38 has three distinct parts. The first thread is called the Great Confession of Peter. Jesus asked the Disciples who people thought He was. Some said John the Baptist, some Elijah and some one of the prophets. Then Jesus asked the Disciples who they thought He was. Peter answered, “You are the Messiah.” Ah Peter got it right!

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The next thread deals with Jesus predicting His own death. He said that He would be rejected by the Religious authorities and be killed and be raised up on the third day. Peter gets this one wrong. Peter took Jesus aside and told Him to stop talking about this suffering and dying stuff. Jesus told Peter, “Get behind me Satan!” You are more concerned about human stuff instead of God’s stuff. I think we can understand Peter’s feelings. After all who among us wants to suffer? I can’t think of anyone I know who wants to suffer. I certainly don’t have a high tolerance for pain. Several Kidney Stones have taught me that. I think Peter may have thought, who wants to follow a Savior when we will have to suffer and maybe even die to follow Him?

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And the third thread for today’s gospel is the Way of the Cross. In verse 34 Jesus said, “ Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves, and take up their cross and follow me.” Let’s look at Suffering. It is a part of the Human Condition. We all get our chance to have some of it. Some people, or peoples suffer more than others. We will take lots of different medications to help alleviate the suffering. Some of us medicate ourselves to get rid of the pain, or numbness, with alcohol, or drugs, or other addictions. We think these will help avoid the suffering, but we know that addictions cause major suffering. We know that joy can come out of pain and suffering.

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Like it or not suffering is a major part of our lives. We have whole clinics engaged in pain management. We learn our lessons best if we can get through the suffering and work towards wholeness. We are able to be there for others when we grow through our own suffering. We tend to learn some of life’s hard lessons when we embrace the suffering instead of trying to avoid it at all cost. I know we don’t want to hear this but there is legitimate suffering in the world. I do believe that we are closest to God when we love and when we suffer. Through our suffering we can learn to be more compassionate towards others who suffer. Going through our suffering we can open up to God’s presence and healing. Through our own suffering we are able to break our frozen hearts and allow room for the Holy Spirit and other people in to help on our Spiritual Journey. AMEN!

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-Father Ed Murphy, Shared Episcopal Ministry

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