Who Do You Say That I Am?
September 12, 2021
24th Sunday Ordinary Time
“And he asked them, ‘but who do you say that I am?’”
(from Matthew 8:27-35)
Who do you say that I am? This gospel always reminds me of a “pop-quiz” that teachers use to check on the progress of their students. Imagine the disciples and Jesus enjoying an evening meal, perhaps by a fire, just relaxing after a successful day of preaching and healing. In the course of a typical conversation with him, Jesus begins by asking a simple, general question: “Who do the people say that I am?”
Who do the people say that I am? Many answers are forthcoming: “Some say John the Baptist or Elijah or a prophet.” Perhaps they were laughing as they tried to come up with all the different takes on Christ. This is still true today. People see Jesus from many angles in this world: a Savior, a threat to personal liberty, a heretic, a good man, a philosopher, someone to ignore, a Good Shepherd, a friend. The real question, though, to both them and to us, really is: Do you say that I am God? The Lord of your life? Your friend and creator? Do you love me? How would you answer this question?
Who do you say that I am? We answer this question by how we live. For example, if I only attend church when no better offer comes along (like a sunny day at the beach or a football game), or I habitually leave church early without a good reason, or do not pray on a regular basis, one can conclude that Jesus is not #1 in my life, for that which I give priority to in my life over Jesus may be more of a “lord” than Christ is.
Who do you say that I am? Jesus appears in many forms besides his sacramental presence in the Eucharist. For example: the sick child, parent or spouse I am caring for, the homeless and unemployed I gave food to, the unborn that I am trying to protect in a world that seems to place little value in them, the elderly I visited or made an effort to be careful with because of Covid. Jesus is present in the terribly persecuted Christians throughout the world… can I see him there?
Who do you say that I am? When I am grateful for both what I like, and especially what I don’t like in my life, I really am saying to Jesus, you are the Lord. Jesus is looking for a few good friends that really trust him in every age. Are you a good friend of Jesus? He wishes to be your best friend, someone you can always trust, no matter how bad things may sometimes appear to be. He constantly challenges us, through the circumstances of each day, to recognize by our daily choices who we are saying that Jesus really is by our daily choices, by our prayers, by the life we live.