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24th Sunday of Ordinary Time

September 12, 2021,
Catherine Martinez, OSB, St. Joseph Monastery in Tulsa, OK

Who Do You Say That I Am?

Jesus asks his followers a question as they depart from Caesarea Philippi…Who do people say that I am? It is essentially a question of identity. (Mk 8:27-35)

On one level, Jesus is trying to gauge the effectiveness of his ministry. Did the crowds really understand what his message was? Did they get who he was? On another level, Jesus was assessing how well his closest followers understood who he was. Did they really know him or were they simply following a band of pals?

To the first question, the apostles are able to give a wide variety of answers—some say you’re Elijah, some say John the Baptist, some say one of the other prophets. The consensus of the crowds is you are a good guy.

The second layer of the question requires a more substantial personal commitment. The question moves from what are those people saying (they) to what I personally believe (me). It is a test of their personal investment in this endeavor. Peter answers for the group, stating, “You are the Christ.” Peter is stepping out in this bold declaration to make a substantial commitment.

Jesus takes this declaration a step further by beginning to tell them clearly, what the price of following him in his ministry would entail. The Suffering Servant prophesies from Isaiah offer a graphic depiction of the cost of following God. The person proposed in this scene is one who has heard God’s call and accepts the call as part of his identity. It is a person who know who he is, embraces that identity and is ready to accept all that that life entails. Jesus identifies himself and his ministry with the Suffering Servant of God. By extension, he is inviting his followers to do the same.

At some point in the faith journey of Christians, there is an invitation to answer this question personally. Without a personal declaration of who Jesus is in my life, I can tend to drift haphazardly from one thing to the next…not fully committing to anything. This drifting can be appealing for a short time, but eventually I have to decide who Jesus is in my life and what this commitment will look like. I need to be willing to throw in my life with Jesus or be willing to settle for a life that for me is less than complete.

I need to ask myself on some level, who I say that Jesus is and how do I live this out.

Photo by Wesley Tingey on Unsplashed

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Catherine Martinez, OSB, has been a Benedictine Sister at St. Joseph Monastery in Tulsa, OK, since 1985. She is currently the Treasurer/Business Manager of her monastic community. She is a member of the planning committee for the 100th Anniversary Celebration of the Federation of St. Scholastica.

Sister Catherine's reflections begin September 5 and continue through November 21.

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