“Who do you say that I am?” 21st Sunday in Ordinary Time
Jesus poses a challenging question in today’s Gospel. He is in conversation with his disciples about what is being said about him by people. Word is getting around and curiosity is being heightened. “Who do people say that the Son of Man is? And they said, “Some say John the Baptist, but others Elijah, and still others Jeremiah or one of the Prophets.” Then Jesus offers the challenging question: “But who do you say that I am?”
I can imagine Jesus being quite emphatic in the question, But who do you say that I am? He can be seen as asking for a personal commitment from his followers. He is not really interested what people are saying, but in what you are saying. His question is a shift from the general to the specific.
The question of who Jesus is has been a subject of enquiry for centuries. Scholars approach it from their areas of expertise in biblical and theological studies. They bring their understanding of the textual and historical situation of Jesus’ day.
I’m more concerned about the question of personal commitment on the part of the believer. The scholars can discuss who Jesus is. But, as a person who helps people to actually pray, I hope that the pray-ers can make a personal connection between the life of Jesus and how we actually live our lives.
So, a further element of the question Jesus asks his disciples is, how does knowing Jesus make a difference in your life? Does it make a difference in how you treat people, in how you raise your family, in how you relate with your friends and neighbours, in decisions that you make about your life, in your political views, and in how you live in the world? The basic challenge is to allow our prayer to make a difference in our lives. This is a way of pondering, what would Jesus do?
I think of the famous quote attributed to Fr. Pedro Arrupe when he was the Superior General of the Jesuits.
“Nothing is more practical than finding God, than falling in love in a quite absolute, final way. What you are in love with, what seizes your imagination, will affect everything. It will decide what will get you out of bed in the morning, what you do with your evenings, how you spend your weekends, what you read, whom you know, what breaks your heart, and what amazes you with joy and gratitude. Fall in love, stay in love, and it will decide everything.”
It doesn’t matter how much we ponder those words. We are always challenged to see our lives in new ways. Let’s reflect on the words once again, especially as we think about moving into a new year. Who are we saying Jesus is by our lives?