Saturday, March 27, 2004

Who Do You Say That I Am?
Our Lord Jesus Christ asks His disciples this question while they are journeying into the towns of Caesarea Philippi. (Mark 8:27-31)

For us, hearing this question is like going to school to take a quiz on which we've already been told what will be asked on the quiz. We've looked up the answer; studied; and when we take the quiz, it's a "no-brainer." We don't even have to think about the answer. Unlike the disciples, we know how the Gospel story turns out; and so, when the Lord asks, "Who do you say I am?" and Peter replies, "Thou art the Christ," it's like, "Well, hello!" We don't have to think about it. We know the answer; or, we think we do...

That's too bad; because this is probably the most important question we'll be asked this side of Judgment Day. Our Lord asks each of us called by His name, "Who do you say that I am?" We can use Peter's words -- but does that mean we'll get full credit for the answer? Or do we need to grasp the concept that what we "say" is not just parroting the words? (Anyone thinking, "Actions speak louder than words" here?) We say Who our Lord Jesus is in everything we think, and say, and feel, and do. If we truly believe that He is the Christ, the Son of the Living God (from St. Matthew's account of the Gospel), this information should make a fundamental difference in our being. If we grasp that we have been given His life through our baptism, and the power of the Holy Spirit to live that life on our own when we were chrismated, our lives should "say" this to everyone we meet. If we take Him seriously, we are striving to grow in prayer, and fasting, in giving alms, in struggling to overcome our spiritual weaknesses and wicked habits, and to set ourselves free of the things of this world to which we cling, and so do not rise towards heaven. If, on the other hand, we don't think about what it means when we say, "Thou art the Christ," our lives will be little different from those in the world around us -- and so we have squandered our inheritance, the great richness and beauty of the Orthodox Church and faith and way of life.

Brothers and sisters! Great Lent is drawing to a close; and the celebration of Pascha is drawing near! Let us take heart, and commit ourselves once more to walking the way of the Faith that has been entrusted to us, so that, in all that we think, and do, and feel, and say, we may proclaim that our Lord Jesus is the Christ, the Savior and redeemer of the world!