The Lord God opens my ear that I may hear; and I have not rebelled, have not turned back. I gave my back to those who beat me, my cheeks to those who plucked my beard; my face I did not shield from buffets and spitting. The Lord God is my help, therefore I am not disgraced; I have set my face like flint, knowing that I shall not be put to shame. He is near who upholds my right; if anyone wishes to oppose me, let us appear together. Who disputes my right? Let that man confront me. See, the Lord God is my help; who will prove me wrong?
What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him? If a brother or sister has nothing to wear and has no food for the day, and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, keep warm, and eat well,” but you do not give them the necessities of the body, what good is it? So also faith of itself, if it does not have works, is dead. Indeed someone might say, “You have faith and I have works.” Demonstrate your faith to me without works, and I will demonstrate my faith to you from my works.
Gospel Cycle Cycle B
Jesus and his disciples set out for the villages of Caesarea Philippi. Along the way he asked his disciples, “Who do people say that I am?” They said in reply, “John the Baptist, others Elijah, still others one of the prophets.” And he asked them, “But who do you say that I am?” Peter said to him in reply, “You are the Christ.” Then he warned them not to tell anyone about him. He began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer greatly and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests, and the scribes, and be killed, and rise after three days. He spoke this openly. Then Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. At this he turned around and, looking at his disciples, rebuked Peter and said, “Get behind me, Satan. You are thinking not as God does, but as human beings do.” He summoned the crowd with his disciples and said to them, “Whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me. For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and that of the gospel will save it.”
It is God who allows us to hear. It is God who opens our ears. The first reading from the Prophet Isaiah is very clear about Isaiah’s own experience. We also can recognize that when we hear, it is God who is allowing us to hear. So often as humans we listen to another person but do not hear them.
In the Gospel we find that Peter speaks for those who have heard Jesus: You are the Christ. We know that later, Peter and the others still deny Jesus. Hearing helps us to know the other person but that knowledge must continue to grow in love.
The second reading, from the letter of James, tells us that faith of itself, if it does not have works, is dead.
Faith comes from hearing and recognizing the truth of what we hear. Faith has to show itself in action in order to remain alive and to grow. Each of us has received a gift of faith and we have to work to keep that faith alive and growing. Just because we have received the gift is not enough. We must remember that Jesus told other stories about people who received talents and money from their Lords and did not do anything with them. In the end, they lose even what they have received.
We need to come to Church, to share with others who believe in Jesus, and to witness to the faith that has been given to us. Both inside and outside of Church we must do the works of faith: love, mercy, compassion, sharing what has been given to us, seeking the good of the other, etc.
As we hear the Word of God today, may our ears be open, may our hearts respond and may our lives continue to be converted, so that all our life is given over to living this gift of faith that has been given to us.