Who do you say that I am? It was the question Archbishop Listecki used to begin the Archdiocesan Synod a few years ago. Jesus asked this question of His disciples, but He is also asking us this question through the proclamation of the Word. The question is not to be answered once, but it is to be answered continuously throughout life. It is a key question. It is an essential one to discipleship. It is not an intellectual one. It is a question of the heart. So many Catholics haven’t answered this question because they consider it to be an intellectual one. This is probably why they are not with us now. Your presence here is testimony of your willingness to see it as a question of the heart. “But who do you say that I am?”
I recently received an email from a former parishioner who at the time was a high school senior suffering from anxiety and depression. While watching an episode of Nashville I popped into his mind when one of the characters asked another to take a break from life’s hectic schedule and spend an hour alone in nature. I guess I must have said something similar to him back then. Thirty years later he emailed me to thank me for what I did for him. He said the following: “I have come to know our Lord and Savior, Jesus, since then, and not only do I appreciate God’s creation and its beauty, but I am also thankful for what Jesus did for me when He died to save me from my sins.” He is answering Jesus’ question not from his intellect, but from his heart.
Our ability to answer the question with our hearts is the fruit of the Holy Spirit. The young man who emailed me is able to know Jesus as Lord and Savior because of the Holy Spirit. We are told by the Lord, “For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my heavenly Father” (Matthew 16:17). We have come to know Him in our faithfulness, in the sacraments He has given us, through our conviction about His identity, and through belonging to a community that gathers in His name. He is the Christ who binds us together as His living Body. He is the Christ in whom we are and are becoming. He is the Christ whom we make present in the world. He is the Christ whose saving mission we are carrying forth in our world. He is the Christ who heals our wounds, who forgives our sins, who walks with us on the journey of life.
In standing firm in Him we have become a rock upon which He continues to build His Church. The rock of faith is the foundation and we have become a part of that foundation, upon which He is building His Church. Most of us have become believers because of the faith of our parents and grandparents. This is how the Father revealed to us that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the living God. We owe our
faithfulness to them and the Holy Spirit who is at work with them, through them and by them. “But who do you say that I am?” It is a question of the heart and to be answered only with the heart. In doing so, we have a challenge. We are not to talk about the Christ, we are to be the Presence of Christ, living as He did. This is more powerful than words, because if flows from the heart. You are going to touch many people’s lives this week. Be the presence of Christ to them and maybe thirty years later they will email you to say THANK YOU.
Sincerely yours in Christ,