( Based on Mk 8: 27-35)
Most of us have been to hotels or cafeterias.
Hotels or cafeterias provide a menu book or a menu card, which allows customers to select and choose their choice of food or drink.
>> This choice of food depends on various factors : The availability of food, the company of friends we have, the mood and feelings of our mind, the time and occasion of the meal etc…
The choice of food varies based on several changing factors!
This cafeteria mentality works out very well for our food taste and our appetite.
But sometimes, we adopt a similar attitude, even in our Christian Lives!
>> We like to pick and choose aspects and portions of Christ and Christianity to fit into our choice…
>> We like to prefer and select parts and segments of Christ and Christianity which are more comfortable…
We follow a “Cafeteria Spirituality” in Christianity!
The Gospel of the Day warns and cautions against choosing this attitude of a Cafeteria Spirituality in following Christ and instead demands a total commitment – “If anyone would follow after me, let him deny himself, take up his cross and follow Me” (Mk 8: 34)
Today’s Gospel is the familiar passage of Jesus enquiring His disciples with the dual-query, “Who do people say that I am?” and “Who do you say that I am?” (Mk 7: 27b, 29)
The world may have innumerable answers when the question “Who do people say that I am?” is posed.
>> Many saw Jesus preaching zealously on repentance…and considered Him as John the Baptist
>> Many saw Jesus being mighty in deeds and wondrous acts…and considered Him as Elijah
>> Many saw Jesus powerfully authoritative in his words…and considered Him a Prophet
But most of them failed to see Jesus truly as the One He really was! The SON OF GOD!
This can easily happen to any one of us too.
> We may find Jesus as a source of many powers and many blessings and with many qualities.
… And we may tap this source for our various needs and wants.
> We may be deeply impressed with Jesus and His huge treasury of teachings
… And we may admire and appreciate Him as a Great Moral Teacher
> We may look at Jesus as being a wonderful person, like many other great people in the world
.. And we may engage ourselves in studying about Him, collecting quotes on Him and reading various books on Him
But with all these “varied” qualities and dimensions, sometimes, we tend to forget the fact that our Blessed Lord…
… came not merely to be a storehouse of blessings and favours to be delivered
… came not simply to give some teachings and bring some societal transforms with some philosophies
… came not simply to be called as a “great man” and become a subject of many books, articles, talks etc
He primarily came to be Our Saviour!
> He came to help us gain eternal life
> He came to save us from our sins
> He came to win us back to God
But sometimes, we adopt a “Cafeteria Spirituality” in our understanding and following of the Lord.
We choose the qualities we like but in the process, we might sometimes lose the very person Himself!
The Cafeteria Spirituality in our Spiritual Life may cater to many of our wants.
>> But it might be found short of answering our basic need of redemption and salvation!
Jesus is primarily our Messiah…
… the Anointed one
… the Saviour of the World!
This is what Peter boldly expressed, “You are the Messiah of God”! (Mk 8:29b)
This understanding of the Real Jesus can be experienced only through our complete commitment to the cause of Christ and a faithful following by taking up our crosses.
The Lord encounters each one of us today personally and puts forward the same question,
>>> Who do YOU say that I am?
Am I going to adopt the “Cafeteria Spirituality” and answer vaguely, imprecisely and abstractedly…
… depending on my moods and likings and situations?
Or I am ready to give a bold and convinced answer to the Lord, from the depth of our hearts:
“Lord, you are truly the Messiah of God…
… You truly are my Saviour and Lord!”
God Bless! Live Jesus!
– Fr Jijo Manjackal MSFS