"Who do you say that I am?" This haunting question posed by Jesus to His Apostles echoes down through the centuries to our day and time. It is a poignant question, direct to the point without being abrasive, offensive, or defensive.
Upon their return from one of the first missionary efforts of the church, Jesus asked His Apostles who people thought He was. Jesus was curious, of course, but His question was posed from a place much more deeply rooted than in simple curiosity. He was attempting to open the hearts of the Apostles in order that they may truly come to recognize His true identity.
They dutifully reported that many said He was Elijah. Some said Moses. Some even reported that people thought He was Jeremiah. Others said one of the other prophets. And then Jesus, with what could only be imagined as a penetrating yet loving stare, turned to Simon and asked Him the same question. "Who do you say that I am?" Simon, without hesitation, stated boldly and plainly, "You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God!" (cf Mt 15:16)
Jesus' question is clearly relevant in our world today. We live in a world of chaos with peace seemingly a distant, fond memory with little hope of returning. It feels as though we are more abrasive toward one another. We certainly are more cynical and sarcastic than they were twenty centuries ago.
Those of us who profess to be Christians need to answer this very question ourselves. Put yourself in Peter's position. Imagine the Lord looking you squarely in the eye and asking, "Who do you say that I am?" What would your answer be? Your answer can not be in words only. Your answer must also speak through your actions, how you live your life.
Anyone can say "You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God." But do we live it? Do our lives reflect the Beatitudes Christ gave us in His Sermon on the Mount? Do we truly seek to love those who sometimes make it difficult for us to move from one day to the next? Are we over-critical of others? As anyone can see, there are plenty of questions that lead us to this self-examination.
Answering this question in our lives is vital for through this acknowledgement we find peace in our lives. If we do not acknowledge Christ as the Messiah then there will be no peace. Before becoming pope, Cardinal Ratzinger once said, "Where God is excluded, there is a breakdown of peace in the world." The same can be said for our lives proclaiming Christ as the Son of the Living God. We must be sure, if we proclaim ourselves as Christian, to be living the answer that Peter the Apostle gave so long ago. "You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God."
Who do you say that He is?