Here are two sets of words that describe people. First, these words:
Carpenter, Teacher, Administrative Assistant , Mechanic. These words give us some knowledge of a person. They speak of what the person does. They are factual words. Here is the second set of words: Mom, Grandpa, Son, Best Friend. These words also speak to who a person is. But these words are relational.
Even though both sets of words describe people, there is a big difference. The first set tells us what a certain person does. A person who is a teacher helps instruct and form students. A person who is an auto mechanic repairs cars, etc. The second set tells us how a particular person is related to us. The first set of words touches the mind. They are factual words. The second set of words touches the heart. I have a bond with my Mom or Grandpa or best friend that is so much more than what they do. They are on some level a part of me, with a history and commitment
Today Jesus asks his disciples: “Who do you say that I am?” I think Jesus cared very much about his disciples’ answer to his question. And I believe he wanted to them to respond with those second type of words – the ones that speak of the level of the heart and the level of relationship. “I don’t need to know that I am your teacher or your rabbi or your guru or even some historical figure of old. I need to know that I matter to you on the level of the heart.”
That is the question he has for you and me today. Jesus asks us, “Who do YOU say that I am?” Notice that the question is NOT: What did your third grade teacher say; your priest; what grandma believes, what you read in a book … etc. “But you, who do YOU say that I am?” Jesus is not looking for the factual answer: Jesus wants the relational answer. Who am I in YOUR life? Who am I to you?
It is a tough question to answer, isn’t it? If you are a teenager, young adult, middle-aged or retired, I hope he is not still to you who he was when you were in second grade.
The first step is to name who he really is now. Not who do you wish he would be, but really, who is he these days in your life?
· He’s that person you feel guilty about when you don’t go to Mass.
· Maybe we relate to him like someone we have friended on Facebook: Oh, look, here’s a nice quote from Jesus for my wall
· Perhaps he is that guy to whom, in a panic, we turn to to fix things…
Who is he at this time in your life?
When I spent some time with this question, I realized that there were times in my life when I would have answered:
Friend – someone to whom I could share the stuff of my heart
Hero – I am always inspired by his example and goodness
Challenge – in times when I knew I was falling short of who Iwanted to be and knew I should be.
But the question of Jesus today is not “Who DID you say that I was?” But, NOW. Who do you say that I am now? It is an important question to be answered again. For me, while all those other things – hero, friend, challenge, are still a part of who Jesus is for me, there is something more emerging. It doesn’t quite fit a one word description, but it comes down to this: Jesus is the disturber of my “wanting to settle”. It is easy to kind of settle into life as we know it. It’s the only disadvantage to being here for 13 years – I know the routines. I know what is expected of me and what I expect of myself. Jesus says to me: “I’m not done with you. Don’t settle for the good. There is so much more I want for you on this journey of life. Will you follow?”
And you? Who do you say he is? I hope he is somebody to you. My biggest fear is that he’s nobody to you, or just very little. But I can’t answer this for you. Today Jesus stands before us again with that same question, I believe that Jesus cares very much about our answer, and waits for our response. “And you – who do you say that I am?”