Homily – August 23, 2020

In today’s gospel Jesus is looking for feedback. He’s been preaching and teaching and curing people’s ills. So Jesus asks his friends, ‘who do people say I am?’ They share with him what they’ve heard. Some say you are John the Baptist, back from the dead. Some say you are Elijah others say you are Jeremiah, others see you as a prophet.

Then Jesus asks the most important question, ‘who am I to you? How deep, how solid is our relationship? Peter is the only one to answer;’ you are the Christ, the Messiah, the Son of the living God’. It would take Peter quite a while to come to see the full impact of his answer.

You’ve probably heard Protestant friends or Protestant preachers say that Jesus is their personal Lord and Savior. This was a great theme of the preacher Billy Graham and his call to the Alter to accept Jesus.

Most of us are not comfortable with that kind of talk but it speaks of an intimacy people have with Jesus, the Jesus who suffered and died for each of us.

Our personal prayer offers us the time to think about that intimacy that closeness with him. They tell the story of a little guy talking about how he prays. Well first of all I tell Jesus how I’m doing and then I ask him how he’s doing. That’s the way we talk to one another, a familiarity; an at easiness.

Who do you say I am, who am I to you? As one spiritual writer wrote; ‘Jesus is always seeking a two-way liaison between himself and us, not just one-way. He wants us to have a relationship to the fullness of who he is. Besides being a charismatic leader or a good friend, he is the very reality of God’s love, present in the world, wide open to loving each of us. As St. Paul said, Jesus is the love of God made visible. He wants a mutual love-relationship with you and me, one in which we open up our hearts and let Godly love in. This is who Jesus is to us; He is the person who loved us even unto dying for us. He is the one who daily invites us to bring our burdens of anxiety, depression, grief, our weakness and failing to him for his support and understanding. He is the one who willing forgives our sins and failings. He is the healer of our wounds. He is the one who gives us the strength to face the uncertainty of a new day.

Our part in our relationship is to trust in who Jesus is to us.

In today’s short gospel the important question is asked of all of us; who am I to you. Enlightened by the Holy Spirit only we can answer that question, it’s that personal.