Friday, September 27, 2013

Who Do You Say I Am?

By Melanie Rigney

For thus says the Lord of hosts: One moment yet, a little while, and I will shake the heavens and the earth, the sea and the dry land. I will shake all the nations, and the treasures of all the nations will come in, and I will fill this house with glory… (Haggai 2:6-7)

Send forth your light and your fidelity; they shall lead me on and bring me to your holy mountain, to your dwelling place. (Psalms 43:3)

Once when Jesus was praying in solitude, and the disciples were with him, he asked them, “Who do the crowds say that I am?”They said in reply, “John the Baptist; others, Elijah; still others, ‘One of the ancient prophets has arisen.’”Then he said to them, “But who do you say that I am?”Peter said in reply, “The Christ of God.” (Luke 9:18-20)

Lord, You have revealed Yourself to me. I ask for the faith and strength to share this revelation with all I meet and in all I do.

The Gospels move along at a pretty fast clip, focusing on Jesus’s ministry with only the occasional reference to what the apostles might have been thinking or doing when they weren’t with him. A novel I’ve been reading for a while now, Between the Savior and the Sea by Bob Rice of Franciscan University, attempts to fill in what was going on in the background. And sometimes, Rice’s thoughts on those gaps offer up some fascinating opportunities for meditation.

Take, for example, the novel’s run-up to the scene depicted in today’s Gospel reading. The apostles have been debating for some time just who this leader of theirs is. From the sea, Simon has heard the word “Messiah,” but he’s not brave enough to say it. For his part, Jesus is becoming increasingly frustrated with the apostles’ lack of understanding of just about everything, despite all the hints he’s given them. Then when Jesus asks, “But who do you say that I am?” and Simon summons up the courage to say it out loud, it’s beautiful:

Jesus turned and Simon did not know what to expect. He looked as surprised as the others. Then Jesus bowed his head and put his hands together over his mouth as if in prayer. He opened his arms wide and looked radiantly into the sun as if to say: thank you.

There’s something humanizing and inspiring in thinking about the internal relationships of the apostles. There’s something that resonates within our souls to know that even those who walked with Christ didn’t always understand. And there’s something indescribably joyous about Rice’s depiction of thankfulness when finally, finally someone gets it. Perhaps the same thing happens in heaven when we experience our own moments, however fleeting, of enlightenment.

Do something today that Jesus doesn’t expect from you. Be kind to someone you find difficult to love or open yourself up to listening instead of talking during your prayer time. Hear that thank you? It’s meant for both you and the Father.

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