Twelfth Sunday in Ordinary Time (C)
The flight was cancelled, and a man, well known in the community, insistently and furiously demanded that he be put on the next available flight for a very important meeting. The man, fuming with anger, said in his threatening tone of voice: “do you not know who I am?” The airline attendant looked at him, got the microphone, and announced, “Ladies and Gentlemen, there is a man here who does not know who he is. If anyone recognizes him, please let us know” (narrated by a friend).
In a world where survival of the fittest is the law, to be number one is to beat the best (or the worst). So, to be the best is to know the enemy and conquer him. The rule is: exploit, sow fear, subjugate.
For Christians and God-fearing people, to know oneself is to know the good, and the “Good” is God. No one is better for no one can compare with Him. The rule is: listen (pray), obey, and serve. So to be number one is to be the last; to be the best is to be the least; to be powerful is to be meek and humble; to be great is to serve; to be wealthy is to be poor; to receive is to give. Thus, Jesus said to the young man: If you wish to be perfect, go, sell what you have and give to (the) poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me” (Mt 19:21), “for where your treasure is, there also will your heart be” (Lk 12:34). In other words, to go up to the height of holiness is to go down on one’s knees to pray to the Holy God, serve His Divine purposes, and be holy as He is holy.
When Jesus asked His disciples who people thought He was, He was not thinking of Himself. He was leading them to their personal answer, which needed real personal conviction. He was leading them to understand that His suffering, death and resurrection was for the salvation of all.
– His question was not for his fame and power, as when the sons of Zebedee asked Jesus: “Teacher, we want you to do for us whatever we ask of you…. Grant that in your glory we may sit one at your right and the other at your left” (Mk 10:35-37).
– His question was not to subjugate, as in Gethsemani the disciples boasted: “Lord, shall we strike with a sword?” And one of them struck the high priest’s servant and cut off his right ear. But Jesus said in reply, “Stop, no more of this!” Then he touched the servant’s ear and healed him” (Lk 22:49-50).
– His question was certainly not putting himself as a mere miracle worker, so He told His disciples: Watch out, guard against the leaven of the Pharisees and the leaven of Herod.” They concluded among themselves that it was because they had no bread…. He said to them, “Why do you conclude that it is because you have no bread? Do you not yet understand or comprehend? (Mk 8:15-17).
– His question was not to avoid opposition, as when James and John said when they were not welcomed in a Samaritan village: “Lord, do you want us to call down fire from heaven to consume them?” (Lk 9:54). St. Paul wrote: “do not let your good be reviled. For the kingdom of God is not a matter of food and drink, but of righteousness, peace, and joy in the holy Spirit; whoever serves Christ in this way is pleasing to God and approved by others. Let us then pursue what leads to peace and to building up one another” (Rom 14:16-19).
The best answer to the question of Jesus is His very life. For Him confrontation, violence, show of power, food and worldly things are not the answer. For Him and for Christians, recognizing the Truth that we are children of God and destined to live with Him forever is all that matters. God sent his Truth, but people did not recognize Him. Jesus certainly knew that He was sent by the Father, and would also send the disciples, and us, to teach, baptize and make disciples of all nations.
Believing in the Divinity of Jesus is not enough. We need to witness to our faith, as St. James tells us: “faith of itself, if it does not have works, is dead” (2:17). The Lord commands us to deny ourselves of fleeting things, of our sins of selfishness and indifference and of things that hinder us to be with God. He asks us to take up our cross everyday. He calls us to follow Him in holiness according to our way of life.
The document, “The Eucharist: Source And Summit Of The Life And Mission Of The Church” of the XI Ordinary General Assembly of the African Synod of Bishops proclaims: The Eucharist…. implies that people put their relationship with God at the basis of everything. This relationship is to become their source of freedom, enabling them to enter into the most profound depths of their being so that they can make a totally free gift of self (#9, Mar 20, 2009). Through Mary, let us find Jesus in prayer, in the Sacraments, in our legitimate relationships and in service. It is the Lord who makes us see in Himself our real selves called and destined for His Kingdom.