October 22, 2006
Catechist Background and Preparation
To prepare for the session, read all the readings:
Psalm 33:4-5, 18-19, 20, 22
Spend a few minutes reflecting on what these readings mean for you today. Was there a particular reading which appealed to you? Was there a word or image that engaged you?
Read the Word in Liturgy and Catholic Doctrine sections. These give you background on what you will be doing this session. Read over the session outline and make it your own. Check to see what materials you will need for the session.
The Word in Liturgy
The scene in today’s gospel follows immediately after the third and final prediction of the passion, and just before the cure of the blind man in Jericho and Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem. Jesus attempts, as he has throughout his journey, to cure the “blindness” of his disciples—who still have not understood what Jesus has told them of his impending death—just as he will cure the blindness of Bartimaeus (who recognized Jesus and “followed him on the way” to his destiny in Jerusalem). In Mark’s gospel, Jesus’ death is not something thrust upon Jesus that takes him by surprise. Rather, he freely and knowingly journeys to Jerusalem where he knows that death awaits him, all the while trying to bring his disciples to see that only in death will his “glory” as redeemer of the people be fully revealed.
Today’s first reading is taken from the beginning of the fourth of the Songs of the Suffering Servant (Isaiah 52:13–53:12; the first three are found at 42:1-4; 49:1-6; and 50:4-9), those mysterious passages that speak of a figure who through his sufferings will redeem God’s people. The theology of the Servant as one who lays down his life “as an offering for sin” is clearly articulated in this passage: “Through his suffering, my servant shall justify many, and their guilt he will bear.” Yet there are also intimations of deliverance for the servant (“he shall see the light in fullness of days”), though these foreshadowings of the resurrection would not be recognized as such until the Christian dispensation.
Redemption by Christ’s Suffering
The profound mystery of the cross and resurrection of Jesus Christ stands as the focal point of faith. The paschal mystery gives to Christianity its unique place among the religions of the world. In his life, suffering, death, resurrection, and ascension, Jesus does for us what men and women cannot do for themselves—he redeems us from sin and death.
The way in which the Son of God chooses to redeem us begins with the incarnation and ends with the resurrection and ascension. This entire mystery unfolds as Jesus journeys among us, the eternal Word become flesh, in order to save us. He does so not just carrying within himself the reality of divinity. He offers himself to the Father as one like us in all things but sin.
The redemption achieved by the initiative of God in Christ, the salvation that is ours by the Son of God and Son of Mary, the restoration of ourselves and all creation accomplished freely by Jesus, can only be perceived through the eyes of faith (CCC 573).
We are redeemed because God loves us and raises us to be in communion with divinity itself. Thus, it is not enough to be incorporated into the Church (CCC 837). The believer must then live that communion. For it is from the heart of divine love that we are saved; therefore, only our loving response from the heart will suffice to open for us the redemption offered.