Friday, September 25, 2009

"Who do you say that I am?"

Today's Gospel reading (Luke 9:18-22) hit me right between the eyes. Jesus is praying in solitude and then asks his disciples "Who do the crowds say that I am?" To this question he receives a variety of responses...the crowds aren't sure. Some say John the Baptist; others, Elijah; still others think that he is one of the ancient prophets who has arisen. This strikes me because in our day, there is still a variety of responses to who Jesus is. Some say he is the son of God and Lord of their life; some, a good teacher; others, an inspirational historical figure. And to each of these labels, the "crowd" assigns varying levels of devotion and obedience...some willing to obey His teachings so long as they don't conflict with their own personal views or as long as it "feels good"; some automatically reject anything that is presented in His name; some select only those teachings that fit their worldview while discarding the rest; and other, are willing to sacrifice even their very lives if necessary to remain true to His commands. Yes, the "crowds" have just as many varying ideas of who Jesus is as they did when Jesus walked the earth.

And yet, in this scripture passage, Jesus asks a further question...“But who do you say that I am?”...and indeed He is asking each of us this question even now. Where are we on the spectrum of belief? How would we answer this question if He asked us individually? When we can no longer rely on the opinions of others and we must search deep within our souls to find the honest answer of our own heart, what would we way? Would we be able to say with Peter, “The Christ of God?” And if we do reach the same conclusion as St. Peter, do we truly behave that way in our daily living?

For me this is the place of the greatest "rub" if you will. I do believe that Jesus is the Christ of God. I love Him above all else. But how does this belief and declaration of His identity affect my daily life? In my own struggle along the journey of infertility, am I willing to let go of my will and embrace His for my life? Do I trust that He loves me? That He knows what is best for me? That He would never do anything to cause me pain if it were not for my ultimate good? Do I believe that He has me in His sights and I haven't fallen through the cracks? That he loves me and is not punishing me? These are difficult questions and I have to admit that at times I struggle to say "yes" to some of them. We are creatures who often trust only what we can see and tangibly experience, and this makes faith difficult at times. But each day, in the midst of our own struggles in life, Jesus comes to us with the patient heart of a lover, longing to bring us closer to Him. Longing to have us trust Him and soften to His touch. Yearning for us to allow Him to vanquish the doubts and the fears we have and instead replace them with joy, peace and certainty in our hearts.

In my own experience I grew closer to our Lord by posing the same question of Him that He poses to us. "Lord, who do you say that I am?" In October of 2004, I posed this question to the Lord shortly before leaving on a pilgrimage to Medjugorje. To answer it, I had to become naked before the Lord, to strip away everything that covered me, break down the walls I had built up around me and to unveil my face before His gaze. "God, who do you say that I am?" As I continued asking this quesiton, I realized that I was scared to be seen. I didn't want to be looked at. I was afraid for Christ to really "see" me (as if that would prevent Him from seeing me?). I didn't want his gaze in my soul, I would feel Him and I would resist. As He would try to get closer, I would build up a wall of protection. I recognized that I needed to be broken down, crushed down and re-centered on the wheel of the potter and taken back to square one. But the Holy Spirit is truly a gentleman and will never push His way into your life. He must be welcomed. And so during those days in Medj, I prayed that the layers would be peeled away like layers of an onion and that I would be truly open to the healing touch of the Lord. He was faithful in keeping His promise and in great love revealed to me exactly who He believes me to be. The answer came over the course of the pilgrimage and culminated with the words of the priest during confession. The answer was powerful, astounding and full of love. It proved to me beyond any shadow of a doubt that God truly knew me, knew my soul, my desires, my longings, my failures, my potential....and in spite of them, or perhaps because of them, He loved me more than I could ever imagine. He revealed to me who He said that I was...and in return my heart was able to give a bold reply to Him when he asked me, "Who do you say that I am?"

"Who do you say that I am?" No matter where we are in life, no matter what struggles we may be going through which would tempt us to turn from God, may we grow in faith and trust, joy and peace and may each of experience a greater knowledge of His love and mercy when we ask this of our Lord, and may each of us be able to say to Him in reply..."Lord, you are the Christ of God, the lover of my soul."

"My child, all your sins have not wounded My Heart as painfully as your present lack of trust does - that after so many efforts of My love and mercy, you should still doubt my goodness...Tell me all, My child, hide nothing from Me, because My loving Heart,
the Heart of your Best Friend, is listening to you."
~ Our Lord to St. Faustina Kowalska

1 comment:

  1. Suzy,

    Thank you so much for this... it was what I needed RIGHT NOW.
    Love ya much,
    Jen Rajani