Who is Jesus?

24th Sunday in Ordinary Time

During these last weeks we heard how the people and even his disciples did not recognise the true identity of Jesus. Today Jesus asks the disciples, “Who do people say that I am?”  After listening to their replies, he repeats the question, but now in a more personal way, “who do you say that I am?” 

It is Peter, who replies on behalf of all the rest. His answer is correct: “You are the Christ.” However, Peter’s reaction after Jesus explains what he was going to pass through, shows that this was not the Christ (in Greek the anointed, chosen one), the Messiah (the word in Hebrew), that Peter wished for. The Jews had long waited for the Messiah. They awaited a saviour who would free them from the Romans. However, Jesus does not promise to fight the Romans. He tells the disciples that he would suffer, die and rise again after three days. Peter could not accept that Jesus, who was the Messiah, would have to suffer and die. After Peter’s reaction, Jesus addressess not only the disciples but also the people present and tells them that to follow him, they had to carry their cross. In those times, the cross was abhorred. Thieves and bad people were crucified. It was a cruel death. It was also very downgrading since the person condemned had to carry the cross to the place of crucifixion. We know all this because this was the way in which Jesus died. When Jesus said these words, he was not saying that those who follow him would be crucified, even though many did (and still do) give their lives for the love of him. Jesus is telling us that to be his disciples, we will face choices, some of which will be difficult and include a lot of suffering. Following Jesus does not mean choosing a comfortable way of living. However, Jesus promises us that after our suffering, after our commitment to follow him, we will be rewarded with eternal life. 

No one asks to be burdened with a cross. When we are passing through difficult times, we pray that they will pass. Even Jesus, in the Garden of Gethsemane, prayed so that he would not have to carry the cross which awaited him. However, he was God’s obedient servant. Jesus had full trust in the Father. For this reason, he went through all the suffering, through the crucifixion and death. We know that the story does not end there. As Jesus tells us even in today’s Gospel, after three days, he rises from the dead. Carrying our cross means that we live like Christ, so that after this life, we receive what he has promised us, eternal life.

A reading from the Gospel of Mark (Mk 8, 27-35)

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.”

The Gospel of the Lord
Praise to you Lord Jesus Christ

  1. Read the Gospel story so that you are familiar with it.
  2. Reflect on what the Gospel is saying to you. Which points would you highlight and why?
  3. To carry our cross means that we live like Christ. Find time to reflect on whether you are living like Jesus. Jesus loved everyone. Jesus forgave others. Jesus helped everyone, without expecting anything back. Jesus prayed. Jesus trusted God.
  4. What is the cross you are carrying? Instead of asking Jesus to take away this cross, pray and ask for his help, ask Jesus to show you the way, to walk with you.
  5. Together with your family find the right time to read this gospel. The environment helps, so before you start, prepare:
    i. The Bible reading from St Mark  (8, 27-35)
    ii. A cross
    iii. A candle
    iiv. Cover the table with a green clot
    v. A computer/laptop with the reading and clips
  6. Go through the steps with your children (2 age groups are being suggested)
  7. Feel free to adapt to your situation
  8. Be creative 😊
  9. Go to the Prayer Corner section to continue praying as a family

Today, we will hear Jesus asking his friends a question. He asks them to tell him who they think he is! Let us listen to the Gospel and see whom among his friends gives the right answer.

  • Jesus teaches us that it is not always easy to follow him
  • A paper bag
  • A box of colours, or a card game (which fits into the bag)

Note to parents: put the box of colours or the card game in the bag and close it. Show it to the children and ask:

What do you think is in the bag? (give them time to try and guess, do not answer them and do not tell them what is in the bag)

Let them touch the bag and feel what is in it and let them guess again what is inside.

Afterwards, allow them to open the bag and see what is in it.

Now that you can see inside the bag, you know exactly what was inside. Before, you could only guess. Certainly, there was a difference between guessing by only looking at the bag, and guessing after feeling what was inside.

Jesus did not play this game with the disciples but he did something which was quite similar. First, he asked them “Who do people say that I am?” The people did not know Jesus as much as the disciples knew him. Consequently, their answers were not correct. They resembled your mistaken answers when you tried to guess what was in the bag! Some thought that he was John the Baptist, others thought he was Elijah and others that Jesus was one of the prophets. Yet, the disciples knew Jesus better. Their answer was correct as your answer when you opened the bag and looked inside. So, when Jesus asked “Who do you say that I am?” Peter gave the correct answer: “You are the Christ.”

Therefore, from this game and from what Jesus is telling us, today, we learn that we need time to get to know Jesus. Like the disciples we need to approach Jesus, we need to talk with him, and let him talk to us. How do you think we can do all this? (see that in their answers they include: reading/listening to stories from the Bible, learning about Jesus during catechetical meetings, and from school, and from the Sunday sermon, when we pray and talk with Jesus, when we stay looking at him in silence … during prayer, ask the children to close their eyes and imagine Jesus near them. It helps if there is a picture of Jesus. When you pass from in front a church, take the children inside and after praying, spend some time in silence.)

The more we get to know Jesus, the more we become like his friends and we will know how to answer correctly, the question he asked! The more we know Jesus, the more we will want to do what pleases him. In today’s Gospel, Jesus warns us that it is not always easy to do as he wishes. He tells us that we need to carry a cross. Our cross consits of those things which we find difficult to do, such as obeying our parents, not fighting, saying the truth, sharing, helping in the house. To carry our cross, we also have to love others, as Jesus loves.

Sign of the cross.

Lord God, we want to know Jesus better. We want to be his friends and we want to do his will. Help us to remember that you are always with us and that you help us in all our needs.

Listen to this song, and help the children understand it, let them make it part of their prayer, I wanna be like Jesus.

Today, Jesus asked the disciples about what they believed about him. We believe that Jesus, is the Son of God, made man. We believe in the Father, the Son (Jesus) and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. So, to end your prayer time, pray the Glory be.

You may wish to do the activities linked with this prayer.

In today’s Gospel, Peter confesses that Jesus is the Christ (in Hebrew, he is the Messiah). Jesus, on the other hand teaches us that those who follow him will encounter difficulties and problems. His disciples will have to make difficult choices, and will have to carry their cross.

  • Jesus teaches us what it means to be his friend
  • When we follow Jesus, we are expected to do difficult things
  • Printout of today’s activity
  • Pencil
  • Colours 

In today’s Gospel, we heard how those who were his friends, knew who Jesus was. Jesus was the Messiah (the Christ). However, they had a different idea as to what the Messiah would do. Their view of the Messiah was different from what Jesus was to do. Jesus tells them that he was the Messiah, who would suffer and die. This was not the Messiah who would overthrow the Romans and save the Jews from their oppression! Peter and his friends were taken very much aback that Jesus, their friend would have to suffer. Yet Jesus wanted to do God’s will. Jesus startles them even further, when he says to his disciples that they too would have to suffer.

Jesus addresses us too, with these same words. If we want to be his friends, there will be times when we will be faced with difficult choices. It could very well be that we do not do as Jesus wishes because we are afraid that our friends call us names and tease us, or else they stop being our friends. It could be that we do not have faith in ourselves and we think we are not be able to do what Jesus wants, or we put into doubt the fact that Jesus is with us. These are thoughts which may pass through our minds. They are in fact our temptations. Everyone is tempted. These bad thoughts do not come from Jesus. The only thoughts which come from Jesus are ones of encouragement to do what is good. As friends of Jesus, is there something which at present you are finding difficult to do? (allow the children to express themselves, talk to them about these difficulties. Encourage them and help them so that they overcome these situations. Pray for them and with them, and in prayer, mention these difficult situations)Today we heard this question: “Who do you say that I am?” If you meet someone who has never heard anything about Jesus, what will you tell them? Print out today’s activity sheet, and in the empty space, write down, what you would tell this person, who knows nothing about Jesus. You may also colour the picture. Whilst colouring, listen to, You are the one.

Dear Jesus, today you ask us, who we think that you are. We are lucky, because we have people who teach us about you, and slowly we are getting to know you better. We would like to pray for those children, and for those people who do not know you. Please send them people who will teach them about you, so that like us they will know you.

The Creed is a prayer which proclaims our faith. Do you know that there is the Apostles’ Creed and the Nicene Creed? The first Christians prayed the Apostles’ Creed. We too pray this creed, in a slightly different way, when there is a baptism, and whenever, during Mass, we recite the Creed in the question-and-answer format. We would be in fact renewing our baptismal vows. The Nicene Creed, started to be said later, after doubts were expressed about the divinity of Jesus. So, the Nicene Creed shows that we believe in Jesus who is God, who has always been and who will always be. We believe that through his death, Jesus saved us. We call it the Nicene Creed because it was approved during the Council of Nicaea, in 325 AD.

1. According to today's Gospel, Jesus, together with his disciples, was going to the villages of ....

Correct! Wrong!

2. When Jesus asked his disciples whom they thought he was, what did Peter answer?

Correct! Wrong!

3. What did Jesus announce to Peter and his disciples after the latter made a beautiful statement of faith?

Correct! Wrong!

4. To the other disciples who joined the twelve, Jesus told them that whoever wants to follow him must ...

Correct! Wrong!

How to use this space

God speaks to us in many ways, including through the Sunday Scripture readings. Here you will find useful background and activities to better understand the upcoming Sunday's Scripture readings, helping you to connect the Scripture to daily life in a meaningful way.