20 June 2010. 12th Sunday in Ordinary Time
Zech 12:10-11; 13:1; Psalm 63; Gal 3, 26-29; Luke 9, 18-24
We want to know who we are to someone we love. What people say about us is not as important as what people we love regard us.
When Jesus asked His disciples about what other people were saying about him, they said that others say that He was like a comeback artist as John the Baptist, Elijah or a prophet of old. The associations might seem ridiculous to us, but it was a matter of fact to them. Because Jesus followed John at first, He was now associated with John. Because Jesus preached like a great prophet, people thought Elijah, their greatest prophet, was reborn. Because He preached conversion and repentance, some associated Him with an old prophet who admonished the people of the past to return to God.
It is easy to know who we are to some people. But when the question is directed to us, we are led to rethink our relationships. We are moved to reflect at the strength or weakness of what binds us. Our focus is re-directed on the other person; not on ourselves and the effect on the other person to us. By answering a direct question as “Who am I to you” we can identify, clarify and affirm a truth about our relationship: it’s authenticity, depth and intensity. At the end of the day, this truth is essential. Because it involves a basic relationship: You and God. In human relationships, about you and your beloved.
Passing on the faith often began like an imposition. When we were children, prayers were taught and required. Or else, we earned the consternation of our parents. We learned the stories of creation, and the story of Noah and the ark. We knew the story of Moses especially when the Disney movie, Prince of Egypt made it to the big screen. In Catholic high schools, religion was taught as an academic subject; and if you’re running for honors, a low grade in Christian Humanism would affect your over-all performance. It was possible not to graduate because you failed in that class. In other words, faith had been shoved into our throats; not violently. But that was not just the process of faith, it was also the same with all other subjects.
When we reached the age of reason, we began to sieve through these information we learned not just in school but in the university of life. We discerned which matter and which did not. In baptism (especially in infant baptism), our parents and godparents promised to raise us in the matters of faith. They were the ones who promised in lieu of us; until we reached a stage when we decided to own the faith. Confirmation marked that decision. Ownership would require a palpable and personal experience of the Divine, of Jesus who was introduced to us in our early years. Unfortunately many never reached a deeper and more personal knowledge of Jesus apart from what had been passed on.
How do we know who Jesus is? A valuable way of making knowing and love the true person of Jesus is through praying using Scripture. We can also do this by reflecting on the mysteries of the rosary: every mystery is about Jesus, not Mary. It helps when one spends time meditating or contemplating on the life of Jesus, not just praying about our needs or updating Him about what goes on with our lives. Think of a friendship where we are the ones who share, but we never listen to the other person’s thoughts, desires, and stories. How many prayer periods we spend mumbling, and then leave without giving God a chance to say something?
Sometimes we fall in love not to the person of Jesus but the feeling about Him (it is assuring that the Lord is with us); or it is possible to be attracted to God for what He can give or do to us, than for what He is (I love God because He protects me).
It is also possible to be attracted to Jesus for what we read about Him, than for what He really is. We can idealize Him to the point of blindness, so that we just pick up the traits and characteristics that suit ourselves, and close our eyes to others. For example, how many of us turn a blind eye on that characteristic of Jesus who loves His enemies. Or, that trait of His who cares for sinners; it is perfectly fine for Jesus to be associated with them. Case in point for ourselves: Do you want people to know that you are friends with someone of ill-repute? We have always put a value to what people say about us.
The Gospel today therefore is a challenge to know the real Jesus and who He is to us personally. The truth about our relationship with God shows in our relationships and how we regard material things, the world around us, and the global society as well.