September 1, 2017
Last weekend we heard Jesus ask his disciples “who do people say that I am?” There were four different answers. How come people were so confused about who Jesus was?
Now, we have to remember that the people Jesus is talking about were the people who knew him the best. It was not like us who never met the ‘historical Jesus.” These people grew up with Jesus or saw him grow. These were his neighbors, classmates or friends. They were the ones who ate and drank with him. They went to church and pilgrimages together. So how come they were so confused about who Jesus was?
Because they knew Jesus but they did not have an intimate relationship with him. This happens to me all the time with other people. I think I know them but I really don’t know who they are. Sometimes at funerals of people I knew I hear the beautiful eulogies and find myself in awe and asking “really? I did not know that.” Unfortunately, it also happens to me with my own blood mother and siblings. I have been in this beautiful country for the last 17 years and I visit my family only once a year for a couple of weeks. My mom saw me grow and I grew up with my siblings, but do I really know them? Unfortunately, no. I do not have an intimate relationship with them. It is sad. I know about them but I do not know who they are.
So it happens with God. There were many different answers to Jesus’ question because people did not have an intimate relationship with him. And I have to be truthful. This is also a challenging question for me. Do I really know who Jesus is? Do I truly have an intimate relationship with him? I am a Priest. I celebrate Mass every day. I have been catholic all my life; but do I really know Jesus?
It is a very important question for each of us. “Who do you say that I am?” Our answers depend on the level of relationship we have with God. It is interesting how at the end of the Gospel Jesus asked his disciples not to tell anyone that he was the Christ. He did not want other people to hear about the relationship that the disciples had with Jesus. He wanted each person to have his or her own experience/relationship with him. The answer is not about what we hear about Jesus. It is about my personal experience with him.
In my experience one of the gifts of the Catholic Renewal is the opportunity and atmosphere it provides for this kind of personal encounter and relationship with Jesus. Just a couple of months ago in a prayer group I had a wonderful and amazing encounter with God that rekindled my relationship with Him. Right now my answer to the challenging “who do you say that I am?” is more profound because of that experience.
I pray that we all may find opportunities at prayer groups or other settings to truly open our hearts to God, be ourselves and have a true and intimate relationship with you.
Smile, the Lord is with you.