In the Lectionary

September 16, Ordinary 24B (Mark 8:27-38)

Jesus' lesson in large-hearted theology

In his spiritual classic Deep Is the Hunger, Howard Thurman recounts a mother’s response in verse to her son’s prayer:

Each night my bonny, sturdy lad
Persists in adding to his, Now I lay me
Down to sleep, the earnest, wistful plea:
“God make me big.”
And I, his mother, with a greater need,
Do echo in a humbled, contrite heart,
“God make me big.”

In this week’s Gospel reading, Jesus presents his followers with a big theology, intended to inspire them to become large-hearted people. Jesus’ seminar in practical theology aims to awaken them to the relationship between their theological beliefs and their ethical commitments. He invites them to consider their beliefs about God and about his own mission as God’s representative—and to consider how these beliefs are connected to their understanding of leadership and power.