SOUL FOOD for Young Adult Communities: June 23rd 2013: Twelfth Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year C,- the Year of Luke. ( In Year C, of the A,B,C cycle of Readings shared in many Christian Denominations including Catholic, the Sunday Gospels are from St. Luke.)
(See also the Soul Food for Hungry Adult Communities, on this site, re World Hunger, the G8 summit, Desmond Tutu, Bono, Bill Gates, and many others in the ‘Enough Food for Everyone IF’ campaign. )
Dear Sinead, Mark, and Friends,
Ever been asked a direct question, that puts you on the spot? A question about where you stand? A question that make you think and make you decide, makes you come down on one side or the other? One that leaves you no wriggle room, no room for humming or hawing?
Sometimes when a person asks you that kind of question, it may come from that person’s need for a definite answer.
Well, here today we find Jesus with just that kind of need, and asking just that kind of direct question of the Twelve closest to him. He had been praying alone, and his disciples were nearby. Then he got up and came to them and asked them, straight out, ‘Who do the crowds say that I am?’ That was the opener. They mumbled and gave him various answers, but then came the direct question, to themselves. “But you, who do you say I am?’ Not the crowds any more,- but ‘you’. No wriggle room left here. Imagine yourself in the shoes (sandals) of any of the Twelve. Jesus saying to you, today ‘Who do you say I am?’
It was as if Jesus was really wondering where all this work of his was going. ‘Do they know who I am? Do they know what I am about? Do you know who I am and what I am about?’ If his closest followers didn’t know, then was he getting anywhere?
Good ol’ Simon Peter spoke up first,- as usual! He blurted out ‘You are the Christ of God’. In other words, you are the One Sent, the Chosen One, the Anointed One (‘Christ’ comes from ‘chrism’ meaning oil). You have been sent by God!
And Jesus was relieved! They were beginning to grasp that this Jesus of Nazareth, with whom they travelled the roads of Galilee, this human being was the One who was SENT. He was from God.
The Twelve were just beginning to grasp that Jesus was different, and was special. It took a good while longer,- in fact until after his appearance to them following his resurrection- that they remembered and believed the things he had said all along about himself,- ‘I am the Light of the world… I am the Way…I am the Truth…I am the Life’. ‘Whoever sees me sees the Father!’ ‘I and the Father are one’. ‘Before Abraham was, I am!’ (See footnote below about ‘I AM’)
And then, remember Thomas, the sceptical one, the doubting one, – the one member of the Twelve who missed out on that Easter Sunday and didn’t see Jesus? He just would not believe, he told the others, unless he could put his fingers into the wounds in the hands of Jesus, and put his hand into the wound in his side made by the soldier’s spear. And when Jesus appeared to them a week later, Jesus invited Thomas to come and put his fingers in the wounds, his hand into his side. And Thomas blurted out that great act of faith that has echoed down the twenty centuries since then, ‘My Lord and my God!’
Who do you say that I am? Peter had his answer. Thomas had his. Millions have had theirs. And now us,- ‘Who do you say that I am?’ The moment is now, the question is today, for us.
On Youtube, click on this to watch a ten minute presentation to a Young Alpha Course group, on ‘Who is Jesus?’ It might whet your appetite. It will address some of your questions.
‘What do my mates say?’ No! ‘What do I say?’- that’s the question.
I can’t answer it for you. Only you can look into the face of Jesus of Nazareth, for yourself.
‘Here’s lookin’ at you’, he says.
Fr. Seamus (firstname.lastname@example.org)
A Footnote: ‘I AM’ was something that rang all sorts of bells for Jewish hearers, which is what the first hearers of Jesus were. ‘I AM’ reminded them of the beginning of the mission of the great prophet Moses, when he first encountered God. Moses was tending sheep, and he was up on the side of a mountain, in scrub land. He saw a bush on fire, but yet it was not consumed. He moved closer. Then he heard a voice saying to him ‘Take off your shoes, for the place you are on is holy’. That began a conversation with ‘God’, the unspeakable One, the One with no Name. At the end, Moses asked this mysterious Presence ‘Who will I say sent me?’ And the voice answered: ‘tell them I AM sent you.’
And all through St. John’s Gospel, the same question is beneath the surface ‘Who is this Jesus?’ And again and again, Jesus uses the word ‘I AM’… I AM the light of the world, I AM the Good Shepherd, I AM the gate, I AM the Way, the Truth and the Life, I AM the resurrection. ‘Before Abraham was, I AM!’
Jesus is God among us,- the Word become flesh, who dwelt among us. He is the I AM. ‘God so loved the world that He sent his only Son.’ (John 3:16)
And that’s why the Gospel concludes (in its original conclusion) with the declaration of Thomas ‘My LORD and my GOD’.