Who do you say that He is?

So now we return to our fledgling expedition into the mysterious ocean of God’s identity.  Today’s Gospel reading is a perfect starting point. 

Jesus and his disciples set out for the villages of Caesarea Philippi.
Along the way he asked his disciples, “Who do people say that I am?”
They said in reply,
“John the Baptist, others Elijah,
still others one of the prophets.”
And he asked them,
“But who do you say that I am?”
Peter said to him in reply,
“You are the Christ.”
Then he warned them not to tell anyone about him.

This Gospel passage speaks directly to the heart of the matter – who is Jesus? Is it possible to understand who He truly is amidst all the conflicting accounts and opinions?   Do I depend upon my own experiences of Jesus, or do I trust the testimony of others?  As powerful and compelling as the witnesses of others may be, I still desire that personal experience that becomes inseparable from my own history.  I want to encounter Jesus in a pure, open, unobstructed way.  I want to be able to say with John, “I have heard you.  I have seen you with my own eyes. I have looked upon you and have touched you with my own hands.”  I recall these powerful words that John Paul the Great spoke to the youth in Switzerland in 2004:

“Christianity is not just a book of culture or an ideology, nor is it merely a system of values or principles, however lofty they may be. Christianity is a person, a presence, a face: Jesus, who gives meaning and fullness to human life.”

It appears that Peter had come to a conclusion about Jesus, because he identified Jesus as being the Christ. As for me, it is too early for me to provide a response to the Lord’s question.  Today I can only say, “Lord, I wish to sit with you.  I wish to eat and drink with you.  I want to listen to your words and ask you questions.  I want to spend the day with you, learning about what you have to say about God and about life.  Help me be open to what you have to say.” AMEN.

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