“Who do you say that I am?” That’s the question Jesus asked the Apostles in yesterday’s Gospel (Mt 16:13-19). As I reflected on what God’s Word was saying to me in this passage, I made a resolution to articulate my own answer and understand its weight.
Fundamentally, that is the question Jesus asks all of us. Who do we say that He is?
A few short years ago, in the infancy of my faith formation, a friend read to me a passage from C. S. Lewis’ Mere Christianity. It profoundly opened my mind:
“I am trying here to prevent anyone saying the really foolish thing that people often say about Him: ‘I’m ready to accept Jesus as a great moral teacher, but I don’t accept His claim to be God.’ That is the one thing we must not say. A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic…or else he would be the Devil of Hell. You must make your choice (emphasis added). Either this man was, and is, the Son of God; or else a madman or something worse….But let us not come with any patronizing nonsense about His being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to.”
“You must make your choice.” Author Matthew Kelly explains in The Jesus Question, “not making a choice is making a choice.” There’s no in-between.
So, who do I say that Jesus is? To begin, I have to mimic Simon, soon to be named Peter, when he answered collectively for the Apostles: “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”
Jesus is God made man, the second person of the Trinity. He came into this world to suffer and die for me (and you), to offer me salvation for my sins, to give me a fresh start and the opportunity to live with Him in heaven for all of eternity.
Jesus is my Guiding Light, my North Star. He shows me the path I need to take in this earthly life to find my way to God, a God whose love for me is never ending and Who, after creating me, desires that I return to Him.
After Simon answered Jesus, Jesus replied, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah. For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my heavenly Father.” I can relate to that.
The Heavenly Father offered His gift of faith to me in a manner I could neither ignore nor refuse, and, through it, revealed to me His love manifested in His Son, Jesus. It was a no-brainer that happened in a nanosecond. There was no learning involved and no teaching required from others to make me believe. It was after my conversion that other men and women, true “flesh and blood”, began teaching me about this thing called Christianity. And, it was only because I had accepted God’s gift of faith that I was able to accept the full revelation of what I was learning.
My faith formation has progressed such that I no longer have to rely on others to show me the way, although I still learn from them daily. I have found a better way – a way that isn’t just about learning, but about building a relationship with God. It’s called prayer. By talking to God through my verbal prayer, and by listening to God through mental prayer and meditating on the Sacred Scriptures, He and I are building an intimate relationship where He reveals Himself to me and I, by revealing myself to him, learn about myself that which He already knows.
It’s a beautiful thing!
When was the last time you stopped to answer Jesus’ question of you, “Who do you say that I am?” Maybe it’s time.
“Heavenly Father, I love and worship You. I give You thanks for Your Grace which has bent my free will towards you. Thank you, Jesus, for leading me to the Father. Thank you, Holy Spirit, for opening my mind and heart to the Word of God that continues to transform my life. Amen.”
(Who Do You Say That I Am? was first published on the blog Reflections of a Lay Catholic)
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