Now when Jesus came into the district of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?” And they said, “Some say John the Baptist, but others Elijah, and still others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.” He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” Simon Peter answered, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.” And Jesus answered him, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father in heaven.
And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not prevail against it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.”
New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved.
For twenty-five years, I have worked with youth and young adults. Their idealism and desire to reshape the world has been a constant. In recent years, I have marveled at their ability to use social media to organize, educate, and create change. I remember attending a workshop about Generation Z that highlighted their ability to “manage their brand” to create and maintain a virtual image of themselves. This was a new concept to me. To me, brand management was for marketing a product not a personal identity.
Today’s Gospel reading reminded me of that workshop. When Jesus asks “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?” was he taking a pulse of his public self? Then he asked the ones who knew him best, “who do you say that I am?” Was this to check if the public self was consistent with the private self? Simon Peter, who lived and worked with Jesus, saw his authentic self and declared, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.” Was this the knowledge gained in seeing God work through Jesus each day?
Do we dare show our authentic self to the world? Or do we craft one version for the world and a separate one for those closest to us? How do we show that we are children of God in our brand?
—Julia Vargas is the director of the Center for Service Learning at Rockhurst University.
Good and gracious God, you have known us since before we were born, and you know us better than we know ourselves. Help us to strive to be sure that our public identity always comes from our core identity as your beloved son or daughter. May we always draw strength from that assurance of your love. Amen.
—The Jesuit Prayer teamPlease share the Good Word with your friends!