Although Jesus knew who He was, He was interested in what people had to say about Him. Jesus asked His disciples to tell Him what they had heard. Our Lord wanted feedback.
Peter got it right: “You are the Christ of God.” In essence Peter made a profession of Faith. The disciples had been with Jesus; seen Him perform miracles; heard His parables. The time had come for a test. Jesus wanted to check their faith level. Certainly the rumors were out. People were saying all sorts of stuff about Jesus. Lots of folks just wanted to see signs; others were hungry and wanted more of the loaves and fish; perhaps some were bored and just wanted to get out of the house. After the public opinion was given Jesus asked them a personal question: “Who do you say that I am?” Always comes down to our personal relationship with the Lord. When the knock on the door comes and we are asked to consider another religion how do we answer? What’s our defense? “My parents were Catholic. I was baptized a Catholic and I’m never going to change. I might not go to Church, but I’m Catholic.” Well, that’s nice, but who do you say that I am? Unfortunately many Catholics are ignorant of their faith—the rich tradition of 2000 years that reaches back to the original Apostles. The vast majority of baptized Catholics do not come to Church, not even on weekends. They are prime targets for fundamentalist and Jehovah Witnesses. Fact is that the largest Christian group after Catholics are former Catholics. Store-front churches are full folks that were once upon a time baptized in the Catholic Faith. Obviously wetting someone’s head does not give them what they need to profess Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior. Takes Parents, teachers, a community to help in someone’s faith development. If people aren’t strong in the Faith, they will get confused.
We’ve all heard the arguments. “They treat me better over there. I finally found Jesus. I read the Bible now.” Question: Why can’t all that happen here? Why do people have to leave the Catholic Church to experience Jesus? Hospitality is one of the main ingredients in fundamentalist groups. They care about each other—call each other by name. If someone gets sick—folks go to see them. In general most fundamentalist groups take the faith seriously.
Not that we don’t, but we are big. Folks can get lost in the “bigness” of who we are. They come anonymously and leave anonymously. Someone reminded me that I had described Our Lady of Sorrows as a stuck-up congregation. So that person decided that she was not going to follow the anti-social example. She changed—she reached out—she talked to the folks whom she had never met. Now her perception is different. Our Lady of Sorrows Parish is her home. That’s how a community changes—not so much by what is said from the pulpit, but from what happens in the pews. Ultimately we each have to answer the question, “Who do you say that I am?” What’s our image of Jesus? If Jesus is someone of whom we fear, then we will also be afraid of people. If Jesus is our best friend, then we will see His face in our brothers and sisters, especially the people who sit next to us in the pews. He keeps asking the question: “Who do you say that I am?” Remember that actions speak louder than words. The way we treat each other, the way we treat our family gives testimony of how we see Jesus.
As we approach Holy Communion listen to the question, “Who do you say that I am?”