Don’t Label Me, Bro

First Reading: Hebrews 7:25—8:6

Jesus is always able to save those who approach God through him,
since he lives forever to make intercession for them.

It was fitting that we should have such a high priest:
holy, innocent, undefiled, separated from sinners,
higher than the heavens.
He has no need, as did the high priests,
to offer sacrifice day after day,
first for his own sins and then for those of the people;
he did that once for all when he offered himself.
For the law appoints men subject to weakness to be high priests,
but the word of the oath, which was taken after the law,
appoints a son, who has been made perfect forever.

The main point of what has been said is this:
we have such a high priest,
who has taken his seat at the right hand of the throne
of the Majesty in heaven, a minister of the sanctuary
and of the true tabernacle that the Lord, not man, set up.
Now every high priest is appointed to offer gifts and sacrifices;
thus the necessity for this one also to have something to offer.
If then he were on earth, he would not be a priest,
since there are those who offer gifts according to the law.
They worship in a copy and shadow of the heavenly sanctuary,
as Moses was warned when he was about to erect the tabernacle.
For God says, “See that you make everything
according to the pattern shown you on the mountain.”
Now he has obtained so much more excellent a ministry
as he is mediator of a better covenant,
enacted on better promises.

Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 40:7-8A, 8B-9, 10, 17

R. (8a and 9a) Here am I, Lord; I come to do your will.
Sacrifice or oblation you wished not,
but ears open to obedience you gave me.
Burnt offerings or sin-offerings you sought not;
then said I, “Behold I come.”
R. Here am I, Lord; I come to do your will.
“In the written scroll it is prescribed for me,
To do your will, O my God, is my delight,
and your law is within my heart!”
R. Here am I, Lord; I come to do your will.
I announced your justice in the vast assembly;
I did not restrain my lips, as you, O LORD, know.
R. Here am I, Lord; I come to do your will.
May all who seek you
exult and be glad in you,
And may those who love your salvation
say ever, “The LORD be glorified.”
R. Here am I, Lord; I come to do your will.

Gospel: Mark 3:7-12

Jesus withdrew toward the sea with his disciples.
A large number of people followed from Galilee and from Judea.
Hearing what he was doing,
a large number of people came to him also from Jerusalem,
from Idumea, from beyond the Jordan,
and from the neighborhood of Tyre and Sidon.
He told his disciples to have a boat ready for him because of the crowd,
so that they would not crush him.
He had cured many and, as a result, those who had diseases
were pressing upon him to touch him.
And whenever unclean spirits saw him they would fall down before him
and shout, “You are the Son of God.”
He warned them sternly not to make him known.


There’s a motif running through the Gospel of Saint Mark, and it can seem a bit mystifying. Again and again, when the Apostles, or people whom Jesus has healed, or, ya know . . . evil spirits, recognize Him as the Messiah or the Son of God, He shuts them down.

“And whenever unclean spirits saw him they would fall down before him and shout, ‘You are the Son of God.’ He warned them sternly not to make him known.” (Mark 3:11-12)

He asked them, ‘But who do you say that I am?’ Peter answered him, ‘You are the Messiah.’ And he sternly ordered them not to tell anyone about him.” (Mark 8:29-30)

Why? Doesn’t Jesus want everyone to know that He is God?

I would argue that He does, or He wouldn’t go around performing public miracles. But then I’d argue that what He (sternly) does NOT want, is for people to label Him. Because once they’ve labeled Him, they can put Him in a box filled with their expectations for that label.

Jesus is the Messiah and He is the Son of God, but those titles come with a lot of baggage. For the people of the Old Testament, “the Messiah” was the heir to the throne of Judah, a warrior-king like David, who would drive Israel’s enemies out of the Promised Land and make the Jews a strong, independent people. The title “sons of God” when used in Genesis refers to “the heroes that were of old, warriors of renown.” (Genesis 6:4)

It was true then, and it is true now: labels get in the way of relationships. And that is what Jesus wants from us: a relationship with Him, and a relationship with each other. Conservative, progressive, racist, feminist, anarchist . . . whatever. All of these labels can serve to remove a person’s humanity and replace it with a set of assumptions.

Jesus is so much more than the labels people wanted to put on Him. He is the Messiah, He has saved His people, but in a much more profound and lasting way than most could have imagined. In a similar way, we are all more than our labels. Our Catholic faith, when we understand it and commit to it, means that none of those political and social labels can fit us exactly anyway. So, if and when, we are tempted to start a Facebook post with, “to my {insert ideology here} friends . . . ,” we’d probably be better off going with just “to my friends . . . .”

Kendra Tierney is wife to a good man and mother to eight pretty good kids. Together they are fixing up a tumbledown hundred year old house. She’s a writer, and a blogger, and a graphic designer, and a homeschooler, and a regular schooler. Her word art is available here. Her book, A Little Book About Confession for Children, is available here. Find out more about her here.

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