A prayer on the twelfth Sunday of ordinary time.


“Who do you say that I am?” Lk 9:18-24 A question Jesus of Nazareth asks His disciples after a prayer to His Father. The disciples respond with what the crowds say; “John the Baptist” or “Elijah.” Yet another states a prophet. But that is not the question. Jesus is seeking a very personal response. Jesus seeks not the response of a crowd, but of each individual, and that is personal. Today in history, I can rephrase His question. I can ask who is the Jesus that the disciples knew. He is the Jesus of the Nativity, and at their point in time, the Jesus before the Passion. Peter’s response is the Messiah, and Christ or Christos translates Messiah. Peter had an idea who Jesus was. In that very word is the reason Jesus told them to tell no one of His identity. Messiah had a defined meaning, and for Christians that meaning changes after Jesus’s resurrection. The Apostles could only answer a question with the information they had, yet for humanity Jesus Christ unfolds. Messiah would have limited Jesus the Christ to an earthly king of the order of David. The Christ of the resurrection becomes much more, The Christ of the Ascension even more so, and then the Pentecost. “Who do you say that I am?” Their response is written on their testament precisely as Jesus taught them. It is where Jesus delivers a response. “I am the bread come down from heaven.” “I am the bread of life.” “I am the way the truth and the light.”

Who do we say He is? For us today we include, the Easter Christ, the Christ of the Eucharist. We also include the mystical body of Christ that is the Church. Christ unfolds, and so who do “we” say that He is? How do we describe Jesus the Christ? Is it by word, or by action? By word I imply a definition like one from a dictionary. That question “Who do you say that I am”, is asked of Christians today. Our response is given every day, through word and action. I wonder how many times my answer has changed in my lifetime? How we live today is how we deliver a response. It is a lifetime of actions that becomes our response. Our Actions in defining Christ gives reason to the urgency of pondering the question. It is after all a question that was asked after prayerful meditation. That meditation implies what is needed for a response. Plainly put that is prayer. The response is not academic, but personal and even emotional. Not answered by an institution, but an individual. Certainly catechism can help formulate a response, but it is not the response. The same can be said of cannon law, and creed, and doctrine. They aid in the formation of an answer, but these do not deliver a response. The response comes from the individual and it is delivered from their soul. One that dies to the world and rises in Jesus. If one knows who Jesus is, one learns how to act which is the definition of discipleship. “Who do you say that I am” is a question I cannot answer for anyone, I think how I should answer it even for myself. Its a tough question.

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