Faith by the Numbers (Twenty-fourth Ordinary)

Jesus and his disciples headed out for the villages around Caesarea Philippi. As they walked, he asked, “Who do the people say I am?” “Some say ‘John the Baptiser,’” they said. “Others say ‘Elijah’. Still others say ‘one of the prophets’” He then asked, “And you – what are you saying about me? Who am I? Peter gave the answer: “You are the Christ, the Messiah”. (Mark 8: 27 – 29)

I hate mate. I’ve never been good at it. Fortunately or unfortunately, depending on how you look at it, my father is a math whiz and loved ever minute of helping me with my math homework. I wanted to rush through it; he wanted to deliberate  every problem and make sure I really understood it.

I know now that he wasn’t trying to torture me, although it felt like it then. He was making sure his children got decent grades (we did) and hoping we would develop his knack for his numbers (we didn’t).

Like a million other kids, I protested that I would never need to know algebra. Instead of insisting that I would someday (I haven’t), he told me to think of it as cross-training for my brain. It’ll make you smarter at everything else, he said. Of course, he was right.

To this day, phrases such as “show me your work” and “prove it” transport me back to my childhood dining table, where I had to demonstrate my knowledge.

Today’s readings say demonstrate your faith. Even if, especially if, you’re reluctant. It’s going to be hard, but you’ve got to show what you know. Prove it. Take up your cross. Do the work.

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