Saturday, May 21, 2011
Blog # 140 Who Am I?
Blog # 140 Who Am I ? This morning, while I was reading Mark 8: 27 -35, Jesus had just cured a blind man but wanted it to be kept a secret. Then on His way to visit the villages around Caesarea Philippi he asked the disciples :"Who do people say that I am?" The answer came: "Some John the Baptizer, others Elijah, still others one of the prophets." "And you", He went on to ask, "Who do you say that I am?" Peter answered Him, "You are the Messiah!" Then Jesus gave them strict orders not to tell anyone about Him. Next Jesus began to teach them that He was going to have to suffer, be rejected by the elders chief priests and scribes and be put to death. Peter said no to this and Jesus told him to get behind Him because Peter was"judging not by God's standards but by man's!" Peter had the right word in his response but he did not know the meaning of what he said. In this brief section of Mark's Gospel I found a key insight given by Jesus into the identity and challenge of an authentic experience of Christian life and discipleship. It has to do not so much about suffering but with our union with Jesus and one another in the new life given us in Baptism through which the question Who is Jesus? and Who am I? can be regarded as a single question Through faith and Baptism we are one with Jesus in such an intimate and profound way that our union with Him is given in the Scriptures as parallel to the union of branches on a vine and as members of a human body. ( Jn 25:5; Eph 1: 23; 5: 30; Col 1: 24; Rom 12: 4.5; 1 Cor 12: 12 - 27; Eph : 2: 16; 4: 1 - 4; Col 3: 15). It is fitting, therefore, for Jesus to ask:"Who do people say I am?", and then "Who do you say I am?" The identity of Jesus is to be, in our own personal and limited way, the identity of each branch , each member of the body. As a disciple and Baptized believer, to ask the question "Who is Jesus?" is to ask the question "Who am I?". And although Peter had the right answer to the question in the words "You are the Messiah!", what he did not understand was what it would mean for Jesus to be the Messiah and that through faith and Baptism in Jesus WE are the Messiah!" Peter eventually learned the full meaning of what he had said. But for the time being as we come upon him in the reading in Mark he is thinking not as God does, but as human beings do. In other words, as Peter rather than as Jesus. Before the cock crowed Peter would deny he even knew Jesus. Eventually,however, united with Jesus in love, Peter would lay down his life as an expression of how well he came to understand the meaning of the words we hear him speak in Mark 8. God is love. To love means to give. The more we love, the more we give. 'You cannot love anyone more than to lay down your life for them". This because in laying down our life,in dying, we give it all , we have no more to give. Only God deserves this total love . It is called worship, another word for the death of a believing Baptized Christian. Jesus was sent and came to tell us this and to live it out in His own life and death. This was the chief meaning of His identity as the Christ, the Messiah. God' design and plan for us was that through self-giving, love is born, and through love glory. Peter seems to have thought we could have glory without love and love without sacrifice. Jesus very clearly tells us this cannot be so. "If anyone wishes to come after me he must deny his very self, take up his cross, and follow in my steps." To have it otherwise would be like trying to walk without putting one foot after the other, or a bird trying to fly without opening its wings. There is a design here, God's design. It is the truth about walking and flying and love. We readily accept and live by the truth about walking and see it clearly in the truth about flying. Let's pray and work that we might see and live by the truth about love, that we might see it in Jesus, and at His invitation and command accept and make it the truth about ourselves as His Baptized disciples. What a wonderful love-filled world our portion of the world would be! Here is how I saw it in a practical way this morning: The question Who is Jesus? comes out Who is Jesus in me? And What is Jesus being sent by the Father to accomplish in me today, right now? Do you see how such an insight is simply an application of our theology concerning our rebirth in Baptism, how it enriches our insight into our whole relationship with Jesus and produces the Father's answer to the prayer of Jesus that He would live in us? ( Jn 17: 20 - 26). With this insight firmly in place how easy it is to be confident of Jesus' presence and His love, speak to Jesus informally at different moments throughout our day, join Him in offering our love with His in worship to the Father in the Sacrifice of the Mass and finally and eternally at the instant of our physical death !