Friday, August 22, 2014

Gospel text for Sunday 24 August 2014

Matthew 16:13-20        When Jesus came into the district of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, "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." He said to them, "But who do you say that I am?" Simon Peter answered, "You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God." And Jesus answered him, "Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father in heaven. And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not prevail against it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven." Then he sternly ordered the disciples not to tell anyone that he was the Messiah.

Reflection    I believe everything hinges on our response to Jesus’question. “But who do YOU say that I AM?” Who is this Jesus who has caught the imaginations and hearts of people for more than two thousand years? What sets him apart from the great prophets, teachers, kings and priests throughout history and now? What about him has kept the stories of people’s encounters with him alive and engaged for twenty centuries? Why have millions of artists been inspired to render mages, in their own likeness, of Jesus? Why, for two thousand years, have people not tired of studying and writing, wondering and asking, Who is this Jesus?

Please remember. When Jesus asked the question, “But who do YOU say that I AM?” there was no creed, no council of bishops,  no conversation about dual natures, no theology of the Trinity. There wasn’t even a Christian church. There was just Jesus and the people who recognized him and allowed their lives to be changed because of him. So today I set aside the creeds, the great books and all I have been taught ABOUT Jesus and ask myself, who is Jesus in my life? What difference does he make? 

My painfully inadequate response to Jesus’ question is, “Jesus, you are  present, real, surprising, relevant, gift, astonishing, heartening, comforting, challenging, baffeling and disturbing. Jesus, you reveal God’s unspeakable love in the only way I could even begin to apprehend it, in human form, just like me. Jesus, you touch me with Wisdom that speaks in whatever language it takes for me to hear the Good News that God is with and for me and all of humanity, no matter what. Jesus, you give me Hope that I and humanity will not be overcome and separated from God when human conditions breed hatred, mistrust, violence and senseless killing. Jesus, you are my brother, my teacher, my guardian, my companion and my God, calling me to faith and finding me when I get lost. Jesus, you are all things to me in order that I may know...  I am.“ 

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