Jesus “put the question to them, ‘Who do the crowds say that I am?’ ” –Luke 9:18

Mass Readings: September 23
First: Galatians 2:19-20; Resp: Psalm 16:1-2,5-8,11; Gospel: Matthew 16:24-27

Before Jesus asked His disciples: “Who do you say that I am?” (Lk 9:20), He asked: “Who do the crowds say that I am?” (Lk 9:18) Jesus did this to show we must separate ourselves from the crowd if we are to truly acknowledge Him as the Messiah, Lord, and God (see Lk 9:20).

Crowd-pleasers aren’t God-pleasers. Jesus is not popular; He is a “sign of contradiction” (Lk 2:34 our transl.). The crowd took part in crucifying Jesus, and it hasn’t changed. Therefore, we are enemies of Christ and His cross if we are a crowd-pleaser, set on the things of the world, those things the crowd has always run after (Phil 3:18-19; see also Jas 4:4).

When we step out of line, the crowd sees this as our judgment against it (Wis 2:12). This makes us unpopular, then rejected, and finally hated and persecuted (see Jn 15:19). This helps us understand Jesus’ words to Peter after his profession of faith in Jesus as the Messiah. Jesus said: “The Son of Man…must first endure many sufferings, be rejected by the elders, the high priests and the scribes, and be put to death, and then be raised up on the third day” (Lk 9:22). Believing in Jesus means not being part of the crowd, which means suffering as Jesus suffered.

Don’t get crowded out of life in Christ. It’s better to be persecuted by the crowd than to be persecuting in the crowd. Follow Jesus; leave the crowd behind.

PRAYER: Father, may I never cry out “Crucify Him, crucify Him,” no matter how many people are yelling it (see Mt 27:22-23).

PROMISE: “Blessed be the Lord, my Rock, Who trains my hands for battle, my fingers for war; my Refuge and my Fortress, my Stronghold, my Deliverer, my Shield, in Whom I trust.” –Ps 144:1-2

PRAISE: St. Pio ministered to the crowds by often hearing confessions for 10-12 hours each day. He said, “Remember that one does not win the battle without prayer. The choice is yours.”

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