June 23, 2013 –– Twelfth Sunday in Ordinary Time
“But who do you say I am?” Jesus asks, with a special emphasis on the you. Peter replies, “The Christ of God.” That is a good question for each of us as well, “Who do we say Jesus is?” More important, “Who is Jesus in our lives?”
There seem to be two sides to life — the great joys and the great sorrows. The first reading from Zechariah recounts a vision the prophet Zechariah had. It is worth noting that the name Zechariah means “Yahweh has remembered.” The vision predicts a time when God will select a King for His people, when the Lord Himself will appear and rescue His people. This is recalled in both the Gospels of Matthew and John as they describe Jesus’ entrance into Jerusalem, “Your king has won a victory, and he is coming to you. He is humble and rides on a donkey.”
St. Paul ties us all together in his letter to the Galatians, from which we have our second reading. “Through faith you are all children of God in Christ Jesus. For all who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ.” This indicates a depth of faith and of oneness with Christ which takes the dichotomy of the joys and sorrows found in the Lord. Paul is telling the Galatians and us that through Baptism we become one with the Lord, and we thus share in His death, yes, but also in His Resurrection. With Him our sins will die, and we will walk with Him in the newness of life, the holiness of life.
The Gospel passage from Luke is considered by many Biblical scholars and theologians to be one of the most significant passages in the Bible. Jesus asks His apostles who the people think He is. He receives a variety of answers, but none, of course, are correct. Then He asks, “But who do you say I am?” Peter’s response, which is quite likely representative of the group’s feeling, is “The Christ of God.” Peter’s exact words are important. He and the others seem to have accepted Jesus as the Messiah previously, but it is one thing to accept Christ as the Messiah; it is something radically different to accept Him as one with God. This seems to be the first time that they Jesus as more than the Messiah, but as God Himself. At the foundation of our faith is the understanding to which Peter confesses, one which is reflected by the Apostle Thomas when Jesus appears after His Resurrection, “My Lord and my God.”
To live lives of stewardship, to truly be disciples of the Lord, we, too, must reach the level of understanding and faith which Peter and the others come to in the Gospel passage. By accepting both the saving grace and the divinity of Jesus we are better equipped to face the challenges of a stewardship way of life. For every day is indeed a challenge; every day is a new day of conversion for us as stewards. And each day provides new crosses to bear. However, as the Lord says in the Gospel, “If anyone wishes to come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.”