Jesus asked his disciples a simple but fundamental question when they got into the region of Caesarea Philippi, "Who do people say that the Son of Man is? They offered answers from "outsiders": John the Baptist, Elijah, Jeremiah, or one of the prophets. Next, Jesus posed the same question to the insiders, his close friends, "But who do you say that I am"? Addressing the question personally to them in Caesarea Philippi speaks volumes. Against the background of the temple dedicated to Caesar, the Roman emperor whom people generally considered Lord, a divine one, Jesus was asking a subversive question at that time. Jesus was inquiring from his followers whom they considered worthy or deserving of the title of the Lord and Savior- Jesus himself or another?
"You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God," Peter answered on behalf of others. Jesus is the Lord! He is the anointed one expected to lead all humankind from bondage to sin to freedom of sons and daughters of God. Jesus is not just one of the prophets. He is not an idea or a wise philosopher. Jesus is the anointed one, the expected Messiah. He, and only he, deserves worship and total human adherence.
Peter came to the knowledge of who Jesus is because the Holy Spirit moved him. To come to the knowledge of who Jesus is leads to a life lived totally for him. All other things must flow from a relationship with Christ. Jesus is the one to whom we must ascribe ultimate worth, not any other person or thing. To whom do I ultimately direct my heart, mind, thought, energy, interest, time, talents, and emotions? Money, social media, sports, family, politics, or pets? If I want to be a faithful Christian, Jesus must be the center of my life. Money, social media, sports, family, politics, and other life matters must flow from Jesus and be centered around Jesus. When we recognize Jesus as the Christ, the Son of the Living God, we must necessarily develop a living relationship with this living person and we will eventually prioritize him over other things.
Preaching the forty hours at St. Rose of Lima, York, this past week offered me yet another opportunity to engage with that question: Who do you say I am? Hours of meditation before the Eucharistic Lord led to a personal confession similar to Petrine's confession: Jesus Christ is my Lord! With you all, my beloved in Christ, we are the church called to profess Jesus as our Lord in deeds, words and worship. As members of one body of Christ, the mystical body of Christ, we are called and sent to proclaim Christ as the Lord to the people we meet. We must, however, daily, in prayers, continue to nourish and strengthen our relationship with Jesus if we want to endure and succeed in our call to make Christ known. May I suggest you attend our parish's "Sing to the Lord" contemporary praise and worship concert on Saturday, September 2, from 6 p.m.? I invite all to worship Christ as our Lord.
In His Joy,
Fr. Alayode Bernard, OP