Who do you say that I am? Jesus poses this question in the gospel today. The disciples have been following him for a while and the crowds of people are beginning to talk about the identity of this new teacher. The people have different opinions as to who Jesus might be but Peter gets it right. You are the Christ of God. Peter knows this, but Jesus tells him to hold this secret close, because the people need to come to learn this in their own time, after the resurrection.
It takes a great deal of time for the people in Jesus’ time to understand who he is. Opinions are thrown about even up to the time of his death. Is he a prophet? Is he the King of the Jews? Is he the messiah? The people ask different questions as they come to understand more of where Christ came from and what he is teaching. As we learn more and more about Jesus and his role in our lives we need to hear Christ’s question in our hearts. Who do you say that I am?
Our relationship with Jesus should be the defining characteristic of our lives. When we were baptized in the Name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit our lives were changed forever. We were claimed for Christ and we carry his mark on our souls forever. While this is a reality that we share, we all respond to this relationship in a different way. Do we say that Jesus is the Lord of our lives? Do we say that Jesus is our close friend and guide? Or do we say that Jesus is a man we heard of, who did good things, who we think about on Sundays?
Jesus asks us to give ourselves over completely to Him, to conform ourselves to His will and allow him to reign in our lives. Jesus also gives us instruction on how this can come to be.
“If anyone wishes to come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.”
This is the task of all Christians. If we wish to be followers of Jesus we need to set ourselves aside and follow Him. This message is particularly powerful for fathers as we celebrate Fathers Day.
St. Joseph gives us the example for Christian fathers. We see time and time again when Joseph set his will aside to follow God’s will in his life. Of his own will St. Joseph was prepared to divorce Mary quietly, and to go back about his own life. However God intervened and assured Joseph that Mary’s pregnancy was all part of the plan. God gave St. Joseph the quiet patience and confidence to know that he did indeed have what it would take to bring about God’s plan of salvation for the world. Just as God gave St. Joseph the task and the blessing of caring for the Holy Family, God gives all fathers the task of caring for their families and the grace to accomplish that task.
Today we thank God for our Fathers. We thank God for those men who have nurtured us and guided us in our lives. Today we ask St. Joseph to intercede on behalf of all fathers, to be their guide and example of what it means to lay down their will and to follow the will of God for themselves and for their families.
Fr. Grant Lacey