"Who Am I To You?"
The gospel reading for this Sunday describes the scene when Jesus was correctly identified by Peter as the long-awaited Messiah, and where He reveals His mission to suffer and die for the salvation of mankind. It also recounts Jesus describing what it entails to be a true follower of His.
I would like to invite you to picture this scenario – You are there with Christ and His disciples. You have been walking with Him and listening to His preaching. And then you hear the question addressed to you: “Who do you say that I am?” What would you have answered? You probably would have given a wrong answer like the other apostles did.
But then let us change the scenario and imagine Christ Himself appearing before you tonight when you are alone in your room, and He asks you the very same question: “Who do you say that I am?”
As a Catholic for many, many years, since birth even, you will probably answer the question correctly. Most probably you will say, “Lord, you are the Son of God who came to earth and assumed our human form and lived among the people in Israel for some 33 years, preached for three years and then suffered and died on the cross, rose again after three days and ascended to heaven after 40 days.”
And you would of course be right. We say this every Sunday in the Profession of Faith – in the Creed. In a big way we are luckier than most people who were there at that time and that place 2000 years ago. Now we know Who He really is, because He Himself revealed it and the Church has been teaching it.
But what if tonight Christ were to ask you the question differently: “Who am I to you?”
The question: “Who am I to you?” is not the same as “Who do you say I am?”
This is because knowledge about a person is not the same as knowing the person.
Of course we can know a lot about Jesus. There are many books written about Him. In my study I have several books about His life: e.g. The Life of Christ by Archbishop Fulton Sheen. I have the 3-volume “Jesus of Nazareth” by Pope Benedict XVI. There are also many movies about our Lord like The Passion of the Christ, The Greatest Story Ever Told, Jesus of Nazareth, King of Kings, and several more.
And then of course we have the Gospels and the Old Testament books that foretold His coming.
But having read all those books simply as literature or history, and watched all those movies for entertainment is just like knowing about the life of people like Abraham Lincoln or Albert Einstein. Although we can know facts about them, we cannot really know them personally. It is different from a husband knowing his wife, or the wife knowing her husband, or a mother or father knowing their child, or a child knowing his/her parents, or even best friends you see often.
For in these cases, there is a personal relationship, a bond of kinship, there is feeling of love, of attachment, of desiring to please the other, to be with the other as much as possible.
So, how do we answer the question of Jesus: “Who Am I to you?”
Some TV evangelists would say: “You are my personal Lord and savior” and they would be right. But then there is much more than that.
Is it enough that we tell Jesus we accept Him as our personal Lord and Savior?
What is my relationship with Him? Do I approach Him only when I need something, be it healing from sickness or problems, but not when everything is going fine? (fair weather friends?)
Do I often think about Him, talk to Him in prayer and during the day at work, at home, at various moments of the day? How willing am I to spend an hour of adoration to be with Him? (There are opportunities for adoration here at St. Columba and other churches). Do we long to be with Him?
Are we willing to do His will in all things, putting Him above those who want to draw us away from Him, luring us to commit sin? Do we find ourselves accepting the culture of pleasure, comfort and convenience even if Christ tells us it is not good for our souls?
Are we willing carry the crosses of our lives: like sickness, etc. that we encounter our lives? Do we put our trust in His love and mercy and not give in to despair and loss of hope when we experience trials in life?
Jesus tells us very clearly that if we are to follow Him, we must deny ourselves, take up our crosses and follow Him. As our second reading from James tells us, it is not a matter of just having faith, but faith that expresses itself in good works, by obeying His will in all things in accordance with our state of life.
The love of Christ has made Him give Himself to us, Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity in Holy Communion. There is nothing more personal, or more intimate than that. As partakers of the Body and Blood of our Lord in Holy Communion, we should become what we eat. We should become Christ. And Christ is He who gives of Himself to others in love. How much do we give of ourselves to others? Do we let t