Today’s Gospel is Luke’s version of the famous conversation Jesus has with his Disciples about his identity, and the 1st prediction of His Passion.
While Jesus was praying, though with his disciples, Jesus asked, Who do the crowds say that I am? They answered, some say John the Baptist, Elijah, or one of the ancient prophets.
Let’s look more in depth at that answer by recalling who a prophet was.
A prophet is someone who saw themselves as spokesperson for God. They received a message from God and spoke it to the people. God had to use prophets because the people didn’t have a relationship with him yet so he couldn’t speak directly to the people.
However, Scripture warns about false prophets- those who spoke for their own agenda, their own desires, and claimed it be from God. The real prophets led lives that were radically set-apart and constantly in prayer, and thus their messages were often times counter cultural. Of course, how the so-called prophets lived their lives gave credibility to their message or not. If a so-called prophet’s life wasn’t truly set-apart for God, then chances are God did not give them a message to share.
The prophets called the people to repentance and conversion. They were to warn them of the consequences of their actions, and persuade them if they could.
With so many people not wanting to be challenged and called to conversion, a prophet was greatly persecuted. Legend has it that the prophets like Isaiah and Jeremiah were martyred, as we know John the Baptist was.
You can imagine, a prophet’s message usually fell on deaf ears, and the people could simply keep doing what they were doing and tune the fanatic out. At best, they might hear some things and reject others, they could pick and choose what they really wanted to pay attention and heed. Regardless, they could keep some distance and only maybe listen to some of what he said.
Then Jesus asked his disciples, who do you say that I am? Peter replied, you are the “Christ of God”. You are the Anointed One, the Messiah. You are more than just one of God’s spokesmen, you are the One God sent to save. Do you believe Jesus is the Messiah? Do you treat Him as such, or do you treat Him as a prophet- maybe picking and choosing what you believe in or how much you want to follow and obey Him? Those who do are Cafeteria Catholics.
My brothers and sisters, if Jesus is the Messiah, then we must do much more than just maybe listen to him. We must follow him unreservedly; we must strive our hardest to become like him.
We have a God who came to us, who though innocent was willing to be persecuted and suffer for our sake, even to the point of dying for us upon the Cross. Even though the majority of the crowd didn’t consider him to be the Messiah, and only 1 of his own disciples had the courage to declare his belief, and God knows too many people today, including us at times, don’t give him the adoration and love He deserves, Jesus still willingly gave of himself for us.
How and why was Jesus willing to do all that for us? Because he knew the Father. He knew He was the Son of God, and the only thing He wanted was to do the Father’s will, He was willing to give of Himself for us because He knew of the Father’s love for us. Jesus belonged to the Father, and as such shows us that only by fully giving of ourselves, can we receive the fullness the Father has for us.
2nd reading says, “Through faith you are children of God in Christ Jesus”. Do you and I really find our identity as a child of God? Are we as children striving to be holy like our Father is holy? If we belong to God, then we must live not for ourselves but for Him.
If as Messiah, Jesus willingly gave himself for our sake, then the least we can do is give of ourselves to Him. If all we do is somewhat listen to what he said, but not fully follow him, not give ourselves to him, then we aren’t treating him as Lord. If we don’t come to Mass every Sunday, or if we don’t enter into Mass fully with our hearts and voices in prayer and song, then we aren’t fully giving ourselves to him in worship and just spectators, and we aren’t really treating him as Lord. Jesus said, we must deny ourselves and take up our cross daily and follow him. We must be willing to follow him, to do what he did, be willing to suffer for the good of others, to give of ourselves, to surrender our desires, to do whatever the Father asks of us in order to receive the glory God has for us. God promises that whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for his sake will save it. If we really find our identity in Him as His children, and give of ourselves as Jesus did, then and only then will we receive our inheritance.BACK TO LIST