Step #1: Lectio / Read
Once when Jesus was praying by himself,
and the disciples were with him,
he asked them, “Who do the crowds say that I am?”
They said in reply, “John the Baptist;
still others, ‘One of the ancient prophets has arisen.’”
Then he said to them, “But who do you say that I am?”
Peter said in reply, “The Christ of God.”
He scolded them
and directed them not to tell this to anyone.
He said, “The Son of Man must suffer greatly
and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests, and the scribes,
and be killed and on the third day be raised.”
Then he said to all,
“If anyone wishes to come after me, he must deny himself
and take up his cross daily and follow me.
For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it,
but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it.”
Step #2: Meditatio / Meditate
Why does Jesus care what people think of him?
Was Jesus concerned about his image? Was he worried that he wasn't living up to people's expectations of him? Did he want to change himself to conform to the most popular opinion?
Remember the part where all those people were like "Hey, just say we're right that you're not actually God" and Jesus was all like "Nope" and then they killed him? Jesus was "REJECTED by the elders, the chief priests, and the scribes."
Right... so why does Jesus care what people think of him?
Hmmm. Well. Jesus knows what is in our hearts, so if he wanted to know just for the sake of knowing, he didn't need to ask.
That means this question was meant for us.
Like the disciples, we could list what the world says about Jesus without hesitation. Some people say Jesus is God, and others say he is just a historic figure. Some claim he never answers their prayers, and some declare him their best friend.
I picture a loud and busy room when Jesus asks this first question. Everyone is talking over each other and bouncing ideas off of each other. Then Jesus asks them "But who do you say that I am?" and you could hear a pin drop. Then Peter, the first Pope, speaks up and says "The Christ of God".
The influence of the world is all around us. It is so easy to get caught up with it and it is sometimes so hard to weed out facts and opinions and stay true to our beliefs. We must look to our Holy Father for answers and guidance. We also must pray for him because he's human too! Like the rest of the disciples, Peter knew what other people thought of Jesus.
I imagine the other disciples each had an answer to that question too. Maybe their exact answers changed throughout their lives. I know my answer is very different from when I first personally answered this question years ago. This is not just because of how the world has changed or how much I have pushed aside perceptions from other people -- my faith has also changed. My relationship with God looks a little different now.
With the next World Youth Day coming up soon, I was reading around on previous ones, and this is something wonderfully said by St. Pope JPII back in 2000:
"Jesus wants his disciples to become aware of what is hidden in their own minds and hearts and to give voice to their conviction. At the same time, however, he knows that the judgment they will express will not be theirs alone, because it will reveal what God has poured into their hearts by the grace of faith."
STep #3: Oratio / Pray
"Who do you say that I am?"
Who do I know Jesus to be?
In what ways have I let the world influence my answer?
How have I allowed God to reveal to me who He is?
STep #4: Contemplatio / Contemplate
"Lord, I want to know you."
"Lord, I want to unite my heart with yours."
"Lord, give me eyes to see you and ears to hear you."
For the Rest of Your Day...
Take some time during the day to reflect on how the world is influencing your perception of God and how God has been revealing Himself to you. Answer the question: "Who do you say that I am?"
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Today's prayer was prepared by Katie LoBosco.