Friday of the Twenty-FifthWeek in Ordinary Time
Who the Lord is for me
Once when Jesus was praying in solitude, and the disciples were with him, he asked them, “Who do the crowds say that I am?” They said in reply, “John the Baptist; others, Elijah; 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 Messiah of God.” He rebuked 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.” Lc 9,18-22
The event in today’s passage appears in each of the three synoptic gospels since it constitutes a milestone in the journey of faith. We have already meditated this event in Mark’s and Matthew’s gospels, and today the liturgy proposes it again in Luke’s. Up to now, it was always the disciples and the crowd who wondered who Jesus of Nazareth could be, and he always let them give their answers. In today’s passage, there is a reversal that anticipates and prophesy every Christian’s conversion in the history of the church. At a certain point, nobody dares asking the question putting Jesus’s identity in doubt, and Jesus himself asks: “Who do the crowds say that I am?” And then: “But who do you say that I am?”.The crowd, as in today’s passage, always gives an answer “according to the flesh”, looking at the past: John the Baptist, Elijah or one of the other prophets. The disciple, after giving many different answers, an answer “according to the Spirit” makes its way, which does not come from knowledge and from past experience, but from the future hope, from the new life which has burst into his history. It is Peter’s answer: “[You are] the Messiah of God”. As long as we look for answers by appealing to our culture, our ability to read between the lines and to give a human explanation of miracles, it is as if we crucify Jesus again to put him away among the dead. Men are very good at this: they decorate the tombs, they embellish their memories and the matter is resolved. The answer “according to the Spirit” does not appeal to anything of what is already known and experienced. It must begin with a “But”: “But who is Jesus Christ for me?” “But is this proposal in the spirit of the gospel?”, “But does what I am doing belong to God’s plan for me?” “But how would he behave to this person that I have before me?” “But, have I talked about the Lord with somebody today?”. It is the “But” told by the church every time it opposes the acts of law and habits that do not reflect the spirit of the gospel.