First Reading: Isaiah 50:5-9A
The Lord GOD opens my ear that I may hear; and I have not rebelled, have not turned back. I gave my back to those who beat me, my cheeks to those who plucked my beard; my face I did not shield from buffets and spitting. The Lord GOD is my help, therefore I am not disgraced; I have set my face like flint, knowing that I shall not be put to shame. He is near who upholds my right; if anyone wishes to oppose me, let us appear together. Who disputes my right? Let that man confront me. See, the Lord GOD is my help; who will prove me wrong?
Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 116:1-2, 3-4, 5-6, 8-9
I will walk before the Lord, in the land of the living. I love the LORD because he has heard my voice in supplication, Because he has inclined his ear to me the day I called. The cords of death encompassed me; the snares of the netherworld seized upon me; I fell into distress and sorrow, And I called upon the name of the LORD, “O LORD, save my life!” Gracious is the LORD and just; yes, our God is merciful. The LORD keeps the little ones; I was brought low, and he saved me. For he has freed my soul from death, my eyes from tears, my feet from stumbling. I shall walk before the Lord in the land of the living.
Second Reading: James 2:14-18
What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him? If a brother or sister has nothing to wear and has no food for the day, and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, keep warm, and eat well, ” but you do not give them the necessities of the body, what good is it? So also faith of itself, if it does not have works, is dead. Indeed someone might say, “You have faith and I have works.” Demonstrate your faith to me without works, and I will demonstrate my faith to you from my works.
Gospel: Mark 8:27-35
Jesus and his disciples set out for the villages of Caesarea Philippi. Along the way he asked his disciples, “Who do people say that I am?” They said in reply, “John the Baptist, others Elijah, still others one of the prophets.” And he asked them, “But who do you say that I am?” Peter said to him in reply, “You are the Christ.” Then he warned them not to tell anyone about him. He began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer greatly and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests, and the scribes, and be killed, and rise after three days. He spoke this openly. Then Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. At this he turned around and, looking at his disciples, rebuked Peter and said, “Get behind me, Satan. You are thinking not as God does, but as human beings do.” He summoned the crowd with his disciples and said to them, “Whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me. For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and that of the gospel will save it.”
I slammed the plastic plates down on the counter, one, two, three. It seemed I’d just finished cleaning up breakfast and it was time for lunch, children squawking like hungry birds waiting to be fed.
“A trained monkey could do this,” I muttered to myself, “this endless rotation of cook-feed-clean-change-repeat.” My four year old, the oldest, looked at me and said, “I like monkeys!” Proof positive.
The thing about having small children, and only small children, is that you spend 95 percent of your day helping them eat and learn basic hygiene. You do the same 10 things 25 times each day. The work we do is important, but not valued. It is necessary, but not visible. As much as we joke about “mom of the year” awards, no such thing exists.
On social media I see all the fun that friends are having with their older children, and I wish these years away. I see the exciting opportunities other women are having with careers and fight the temptation to believe that I am wasting my life.
Today’s Gospel reminds me: I’m not wasting my life. I’m losing it. Day by day, I am losing the life I thought I’d have, and trying to gain the life I have in front of me. The life that God is calling us to always looks the same—embracing the present moment, the present circumstances, and finding God there, putting His love there. That’s the life that will save us.
What he puts before us changes constantly, but our call does not change: to embrace that life, and no other, as the path to sanctity.
Is there some vestige of another life that you are hanging on to? Can you ask the Holy Spirit to help you let go of it today, and see more clearly the life before and around you?
Sarah Babbs is a writer and mother of three, including twin toddlers. She writes about faith, social teaching, and navigating life as a motherless daughter and mother. You can find out more about her here.