Lectio Divina: Luke 9:18-22
1) Opening prayer
guide us, as You guide creation
according to Your law of love.
May we love one another
and come to perfection
in the eternal life prepared for us.
We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, Your Son,
who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
2) Gospel Reading - Luke 9:18-22
Once when Jesus was praying in solitude, and the disciples were with him, he asked them, "Who do the crowds say that I am?" They said in reply, "John the Baptist; others, Elijah; still others, 'One of the ancient prophets has arisen.'" Then he said to them, "But who do you say that I am?" Peter said in reply, "The Christ of God." He rebuked them and directed them not to tell this to anyone. He said, "The Son of Man must suffer greatly and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests, and the scribes, and be killed and on the third day be raised."
• The Gospel today follows the same theme as that of yesterday: the opinion of the people on Jesus. Yesterday, beginning with Herod, today it is Jesus who asks what do people think, and the Apostles respond giving the same opinion which was given yesterday. Immediately follows the first announcement of the Passion, death and Resurrection of Jesus.
• Luke 9:18: The question of Jesus after His prayer. “One day, while Jesus was praying alone, His disciples came to Him and He put this question to them: “Who do the crowds say I am?” In Luke’s Gospel, on several important and decisive occasions, Jesus is presented in prayer: in His Baptism when He assumes His mission (Lk 3:21); in the 40 days in the desert, when He overcame the temptations presented by the devil Lk 4:1-13); the night before choosing the twelve apostles (Lk 6:12); in the Transfiguration, when with Moses and Elijah, He spoke about His passion in Jerusalem (Lk 9:29); in the Garden when He suffers His agony (Lk 22:39-46); on the Cross, when He asks pardon for the soldiers (Lk 23:34) and when He commits His spirit to God (Lk 23:46).
• Luke 9:19: The people’s opinion of Jesus. “They answered, “For some, John the Baptist; others Elijah, but others think that You are one of the ancient prophets who has risen from the dead”. Like Herod, many thought that John the Baptist had risen in Jesus. It was a common belief that the prophet Elijah had to return (Mt 17:10-13; Mk 9:11-12; Mal 3:23-24; Sir 48:10-12). All nourished the hope of the coming of the prophet promised by Moses (Deut 18:15). This was an insufficient response.
• Luke 9:20: Jesus’ question to the disciples. After having heard the opinion of others, Jesus asks, “And you, who do you say I am?” Peter answers, “The Messiah of God!” Peter recognizes that Jesus is the one whom the people are waiting for and that He comes to fulfill the promise. Luke omits the reaction of Peter, who tries to dissuade Jesus to follow the way of the cross and omits also the harsh criticism of Jesus to Peter (Mk 8:32-33; Mt 16:22-23).
• Luke 9:21: The prohibition to reveal that Jesus is the Messiah of God. “Then Jesus gave them strict orders and charged them not to say this to anyone”. It was forbidden to them to reveal to the people that Jesus is the Messiah of God. Why does Jesus prohibit this? At that time, as we have already seen, everybody was expecting the coming of the Messiah, but, each one in his own way: some expected a king, others a priest, others a doctor, a warrior, a judge or a prophet! Nobody seemed to expect the Messiah Servant, announced by Isaiah (Isa 42:1-9). Anyone who insists in maintaining Peter’s idea, that is, of a glorious Messiah, without the cross, understands nothing and will never be able to assume the attitude of a true disciple. He will continue to be blind, exchanging people for trees (cf. Mk 8:24). Because without the cross it is impossible to understand who Jesus is and what it means to follow Jesus. Because of this, Jesus insists again on the Cross and makes the second announcement of His passion, death and resurrection.
• Luke 9:22: The second announcement of the Passion. Jesus adds, “The Son of Man is destined to suffer grievously, to be rejected by the elders and chief priests and scribes and to be put to death, and to be raised up on the third day”. The full understanding of the following of Jesus is not obtained through theoretical instruction, but through practical commitment, walking together with Him along the road of service, from Galilee up to Jerusalem. The road of the following is the road of the gift of self, of abandonment, of service, of availability, of acceptance of conflict, knowing that there will be a resurrection. The cross is not an accident on the way; it forms part of our way. This because, in the organized world starting from egoism, love and service can exist only if they are crucified! Anyone who makes of his life a service to others disturbs those who live attached to privileges, and suffers.
4) Personal questions
• We all believe in Jesus. But there are some who understand Him in one way and others in another way. Today, what is the more common Jesus in the way people think?
• How does propaganda interfere in my way of seeing Jesus? What do I do so as not to allow myself to be drawn into the propaganda? What prevents us today from recognizing and assuming the plan of Jesus?
5) Concluding Prayer
Blessed be Yahweh, my rock,
who trains my hands for war and my fingers for battle,
my faithful love, my bastion, my citadel, my Savior;
I shelter behind Him. (Ps 144:1-2)