"Who do the crowds say that I am?" These words are spoken by Christ in the Gospel passage from today found in the Gospel of Luke. He poses this question to His disciples while they were in solitude, away from the hectic crowds and other distractions. They responded with answers such as well "some say John the Baptist, others Elijah, still others say one of the ancient prophets who has arisen from the dead." He responds, "But who do you say that I am?" Wow! What a question! Who do you say that I am? Who is Christ to us in the midst of such a busy and materialistic world that tells us in a very subverted way that the center and focus of our lives, which should be Christ, needs to be how popular we are, how wealthy we are, how successful we are? Who is Christ for us? I have to be honest in saying that I don't fully know who Christ is for me. I mean I can say with certainty that He is God's son sent to this earth out of love for us so that we may be given the opportunity for salvation. But on a personal level do I know Christ? Fr. Larry Richards, a very popular speaker these days, always says something that I think is very profound. He says, "You can know everything there is to know about Jesus, the Church, the doctrines, and still not KNOW who Jesus is." The word know here does not pertain to an intellectual knowledge of something, but an understanding of the very essence of something, in this case someone, Jesus Christ. To know someone on a personal level. To have a relationship with that person. In reality to feel at one with that person. Everyone has friends. So how do you get to become friends? You spend time with that person Fr. Richards says. There are some people who become more like brothers or sisters than friends. A close bond is created where you just enjoy being with each other. Really to fully know someone can't even be described in terms. But it is found deep within ones self. Like the relationships we develop with each other we also develop our relationship with Jesus in the same way. We spend time with Him. We open ourselves up fully to Him. And tell Him whats on our mind. But a friendship, and any relationship is a two way street. We must also listen to what Christ has to say to us. And this I think is the most challenging part for me and probably for a lot of people. One of the great things about being in religious life is there is set times to pray. There is structure. But we are also asked to have at least an hour outside of that time in our own private silent meditation. That is when you get to know Christ. When you just let yourself 'be'. I find this very difficult though. There is so much that rushes through my mind that I get distracted very easily and it's hard to focus. But that is something I must work on. If I want to be able to answer the question Jesus asks in the Gospel I must first learn to be still and know that He is God. I must open myself up to Him. I must spend time with Him. Such a challenge. But also such a blessing, because from this challenge will come strength and a deeper relationship with my Lord and my God.
Peace and all Good,