“But you: who do you say I am?” How would you personally answer this question? It is interesting that Jesus asks first “who do the crowds say I am?” It is as though he wanted his disciples to know him within the context of those around him. He tells us that we are to take up our cross; if we are to be followers of his. Yes, we have to suffer in this life. It’s a mystery but first, however, we have to ask ourselves: who do you say I am? Leave your cross, your troubles, your anxieties, your fears to one side and ask yourself, who is Jesus?
This is a fundamental question in our lives and there is, of course, no right or wrong answer. Now, I always find when someone says there is no right or wrong answer they mean, well there is a better answer, one which I would prefer you to answer, but its okay if you get it wrong. This cannot be the case with who Jesus is, simply because Jesus is who he is and he is not subject to who we think he is. In the same way as your brother, or your friend is who he is and will not be anything other than who he is. He will never be who you want him to be, rather he is who is and what can and does change is your relationship with him. In other words, Jesus is not dependent upon what we think of him.
Because of this uniqueness of Jesus, who you say he is will be your relationship to him. Yes, Jesus reveals himself, through Peter as “the Christ of God” and we know much about him through the Tradition of the Church and through Holy Scripture. But Jesus has already established that there is a wider understanding of who he is revealed for us around us, most notably in the Church; all baptised in Christ, no distinction between Jew and Greek, all the promised heirs of Abraham. This question is not for the Church to answer, per se, but for you to answer. So again, at the risk of boring myself, never mind you, “who do you say I am?”
So let me share just one thought of who Jesus is for me. He is God, the Almighty, He is the only way to the Father, He is the one pierced upon the cross, the one who died for my sins. He is the one who loves me beyond all loving. Loves me far in excess of anything I could hope to return. Yet he is the one to whom I turn in my hour of need, the one who I long to be with, the one who all my life I yearn for. He is my God.
Later today I will have the indescribable honour of carrying my God in Procession, and whilst we await his coming presence reflect awhile upon some of the most beautiful words in the whole of scripture:
O God, you are my God, for you I long;
for you my soul is thirsting.
My body pines for you
like a dry, weary land without water.
So I gaze on you in the sanctuary
to see your strength and your glory.
For your love is better than life;
my lips will speak your praise.
So I will bless you all my life,
in your name I will lift up my hands.
My soul shall be filled as with a banquet;
my mouth shall praise you with joy.
For you have been my help:
in the shadow of your wings I rejoice.
My soul clings to you;
your right hand holds me fast.
“But you: who do you say I am?”