24TH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME

CHRISTIAN ROAD MAP TO SELF-ACTUALIZATION
MK 8:27-35
By Rev. Fr. Johnpaul Eselu
Man is created for a purpose. To live in fulfillment is to actualise the purpose of one’s creation. The road to self-actualization can never be leisurely. Sometimes, we are sponged out and completely elapsed like Jesus on the Cross. However, as the mysterious Phoenix regenerates when burnt out, so does man’s destiny come through fire to be realised. Each pain we endure draws us closer to our self worth. Each test we overcome reveals a deeper meaning to our struggle.
It may be appropriate today to preach on the value of suffering and the redemptive nature of Christ. However, it won’t be out of place to diversify by calling attention to other salient elements engraved in today’s pericope. Evidently, there are three features we may consider on our journey to self-actualization:
(1) YOUR DESTINY IS NOT IN PEOPLE’S OPINION
(2) YOUR DESTINY IS IN GOD’S HAND
(3) THE ROUTE IS USUALLY ROUGH
We shall see how these elements played out in today’s teaching as essential ingredient for self-actualization.
(1) YOUR DESTINY IS NOT IN PEOPLE’S OPINION
Reality is so immense that the human knowledge is so limited. Humanity is only but a dot in a vast cosmic existence. Man has made a lot of discoveries and inventions yet what remains untouched in nature feels like nothing has been really explored. To accurately evaluate oneself is nearly impossible, how much more another! The limitedness and incorrectness of people’s assessment and understanding of others was revealed by a single question from the Master.
• Who do people say I am?
• “John the Baptist” they said, “others Elijah; others again, one of the Prophets”.
• Peter spoke up and said “You are Christ”.
LESSON
• Christ posed an interesting question about self evaluation. This was meant to draw the apostle’s attention to the prominence of self-discovery.
• It was so amazing how everybody’s evaluation and assessment about the person of Christ was so wrong.
• Only through the inner prompting of the Spirit can a true self be revealed. This was affirmed by Peter’s proclamation, “You are Christ!”
MESSAGE
• Who are people to speak about you? They hardly understand themselves let alone understand you. Your destiny is never in their opinion to decide. No one can ever tell you whom you are!
• Every person’s opinion about you could be wrong. Your TEACHER’S opinion about you can never be absolute. Even a prophet could be wrong about you. Take prophet Balam’s opinion about Israel as case study.
• Joseph’s brothers saw in him A SLAVE! Potiphar’s wife saw in him A SEX MATE! The prisoners saw in him A DREAMER! Pharaoh saw in him A GOVERNOR! But God saw in him THE FUTURE OF ISRAEL. A DESTINY HELPER!
At the end, every other person was wrong about Joseph’s destiny.
• Have you been deceived by people’s wrong opinions about you? Have you let your mind be imprisoned and limited to what people think of you? Now receive your FREEDOM!
(2) YOUR DESTINY IS IN GOD’S HAND
God is the Supreme Being. He alone understands creation in one piece. A scientist knows everything of his scientific invention, same way the engineer knows the capabilities of his technology. The entire creation is an absolute initiative of God. The scripture acclaims that God knows the number of hair on our head, our earlier rising and going later to bed! For he holds all things in being! Excerpts from the pericope affirms that God is the author and finisher of our faith and the master of our destiny.
• If anyone wants to be a follower of mine, let him renounce himself……..and follow me.
• For anyone who wants to save his life will lose it.
LESSON
• Christ is the way to our destiny. The only way. Better to trust in God than to trust in men. See the fate of those who rely in horses or in princes.
• The greatest illusion is to believe that we can do it alone. Man is weak and frail. Only a mere dust. We spring up in the morning, by evening we wither and fade. We are nothing but for God’s grace!
MESSAGE
• Our destiny is in God’s hand. Whatever God decrees must come to pass. Heaven and Earth may elapse, but his word must be delivered.
• You were created by the word of God. For this you have a unique destiny. For his word is your destiny and never the opinion of men.
• Never lose focus on the word. Never be deceived. He does not go back on his word.
• Never find solace in vain things of life. Never seek the easy way to “Hammer” like the modern youth. Never seek solution through fraudulent or diabolic means. These can never be your destiny, for your destiny is divine. Enquire from those who were there before you, if they mean to speak reality. They don’t last and they never satisfy. Only in Christ will your destiny be fulfilled.
(3) THE ROUTE IS USUALLY ROUGH
Nothing good comes easily. If anything seems too good to be real, then it is. The good food takes time to be done. God’s mill grinds slowly but surely it does. No hardship, suffering or temptation can deprive our destiny. It can only be delayed but never denied. The pericope depicts it clearly.
• The son of man was destined to suffer grievously.
• To be rejected by the elders, chief priests and scribes.
• To be put to death.
• And after three days to rise again.
LESSON
• The world is never a bed of roses. Even if it were, within the roses are thorns. Man must labour to be accomplished, for by the labour of your hands you shall eat.
• At a moment, the people that matter most in your life could reject you! Bear it in mind but never be weighed down.
• The worst situation may occur. It may not be your own death. Nevertheless, death represents your extreme condition of dismay.
• Yet after the rain comes sunshine. The storm must definitely be over someday, and whatever used to be hot shall be calm.
MESSAGE
• No condition is permanent. No night too long for the day to appear. Everything comes in it’s time. Patience does it.
• It is not about what comes your way. It is about how you respond to them and handle them. You may not avoid every temptation but you can convert them to victory.
• The path of Christ is the path of the Cross. The cross signifies sacrifice and hard-work. Once we lose focus on legitimate work, then we are already ruled by Satan.
• For this, Jesus rebuked Peter to get behind him. We are bound to follow behind Christ on our way to victory. Any attempt to run ahead of Christ is suicidal and satanic.
“MAKA NA ONYE BURU CHI YA UZO, O GBAGBUO ONWE YA N’OSO”
ULAGA

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