Once when Jesus was praying alone, with only the disciples near him, he asked them, “Who do the crowds say that I am?” They answered, “John the Baptist; but others, Elijah; and still others, that one of the ancient prophets has arisen.”
He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” Peter answered, “The Messiah of God.” He sternly ordered and commanded them not to tell anyone, saying, “The Son of Man must undergo great suffering, and be rejected by the elders, chief priests, and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised.”
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.
In today’s Gospel when Jesus asks “Who do the crowds say that I am?,” he isn’t seeking information. He is teaching his disciples through Socratic questioning. The “crowds” may have a variety of opinions about Jesus’ identity, but analyzing their responses like a polling survey won’t help the disciples develop in their own relationships with Jesus. Coming to recognize Jesus is an interior project, one that is inherently private. At the beginning of this Gospel passage, Jesus is praying in solitude while the disciples were with him. He is modeling the way to come to know him. Each of our answers to the question of who Jesus is to us must come from within. The opinions of others won’t deepen our relationship with Jesus or help us to extend it into our daily lives. Living a Christian life is often profoundly counter-cultural, in Jesus’ time just as it is today.
What counter-cultural choices do I make in the name of Jesus?
—Jim Gaffey is a science teacher and ping pong club moderator at Saint Ignatius College Prep in Chicago.
I want to unite my life to your life,
my thoughts to your thoughts,
my affections to your affections,
my heart to your heart,
my works to your works,
my whole self to your self,
in order to become through this union
more holy and more pleasing in the sight of your Father
and in order to make my life
more worthy of your grace
and of the reward of eternity.
—Excerpt of a prayer by Jean-Pierre Medaille, SJPlease share the Good Word with your friends!