Mistaken Identity

Challenge: In a conversation today find something truthful and charitable to say about a neighbor.
by Father Shane Lambert, LC | Source: Catholic.net

September 26, 2008
Friday of the Twenty-Fifth Week in Ordinary Time

Luke 9: 18-22
Once when Jesus was praying alone, with only the disciples near him, he asked them, "Who do the crowds say that I am?" They answered, "John the Baptist; but others, Elijah; and still others, that one of the ancient prophets has arisen." He said to them, "But who do you say that I am?" Peter answered, "The Messiah of God." He sternly ordered and commanded them not to tell anyone, saying, "The Son of Man must undergo great suffering, and be rejected by the elders, chief priests, and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised."

Introductory Prayer: Lord, in this Jubilee Year of St. Paul, I turn to you with renewed zeal for the salvation of souls. I believe in you and your love for me. Teach me to live and spread the Catholic faith ardently. Increase my faith, hope, and love so that I may exclaim with St. Paul, “yet I live, no longer I, but Christ lives in me” (Galatians 2:20).

Petition: Lord Jesus, teach me to build up your Church and construct a civilization of love by publicly adhering to Christian faith and morality.

1. Opinion Poll
Although modern sociology or political science may claim that opinion polls are a recent phenomenon, here Jesus gathers a sampling of “public opinion” regarding his identity. Jesus has not spent the night in prayer because he is worried about his public image. Jesus is not running for office. Actually, Jesus has already conducted an election. He has chosen leaders – twelve apostles – and he has prayed to God the Father that they be given discernment. Is what they think and say based on hearsay, or have they personally assimilated the truth? The answers his disciples give are telling: first is “John the Baptist.” How could this be? John the Baptist and Jesus were contemporaries, two different people. John the Baptist’s personal proclamation was, “I am not the Messiah” (John 1:20). Yet “public opinion” got it all wrong. Then the list goes on to other names, but it is still not correct. Maybe Jesus’ disciples are just starting to reflect…

2. Census Data
Jesus then turns the conversation to the “truth,” in hope that someone is convinced in his heart: “But who do you say that I am?” Enough with the crowd; enough with just going along; enough with avoiding the question that really matters. Jesus has chosen them – why have they followed? Will anyone dare state the result without having to send it to a vote? The census data is in: Jesus is a Person who has no earthly origin, and Simon Peter bravely speaks up: “The Messiah of God.” Peter had been elected by Christ. Peter has reflected on the truth of his experience. Peter has become convinced in his heart. Peter has professed his faith publically. Peter is a Christian – a person with a living faith – worthy of bearing Christ’s name. Perhaps his census, now made public, can create a proper consensus. Have I done my research? Have I searched my heart? Do I dare proclaim the truth about Christ in public? After all, he was born King of kings and Lord of lords.

3. Making Sense
Why is there this conflict between public opinion and the truth? The conflict is significant. Christ explains it and brings his apostles to their senses: Since he stands for the Truth, the passion-driven opinions of the world will lead to his Passion. “The Son of Man must undergo great suffering, and be rejected by the elders, chief priests, and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised.” Jesus prepares his disciples for the mission for which he has chosen them. Who will stand by his side amidst trial? For my faith in Christ, am I ready to be a sign of contradiction when I stand up in the public square?

Conversation with Christ: Lord Jesus, Saul of Tarsus had to inquire “Who are you, Lord?” when he had mistaken your identity and had persecuted your followers, waging war on the Church. In your mercy enlighten my heart with your truth so that I may recognize you in my brethren, and not be blinded by my passions or swayed by the mobs that hurl stones at your holy ones.

Resolution: In a conversation today I will find something truthful and charitable to say about a neighbor.

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