Reflection for the Twenty-fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time - September 16, 2018
Questions about identity and purpose lie at the heart of our human experience. From a very young age, we navigate countless social roles that shape us as individuals—roles as son or daughter, brother or sister, student, teammate, friend. Self-discovery leads us to recognize certain talents and uncover additional dimensions of our identity as musicians, athletes, writers, artists, researchers, organizers, and good listeners. We look to mentors and elders and imagine how our identity will evolve as we anticipate potential employment, married life, and parenthood. As Christians, however, what infuses and unifies all these aspects is our shared identity in Christ through baptism. We are first and foremost God’s children, chosen and beloved. In this weekend’s Gospel, Jesus poses the question to his disciples concerning what the crowds are saying about his identity. “Who do people say that I am?” he asks. Varied responses surface, all of which he silences by another question: “But who do you say that I am?” The speculation of others means nothing—Jesus wants the honest faith of his followers to shine forth, even as their identity is tied to his on the cross. In our lives today, let us not rely on external opinions to mark out our identity, but instead let us be rooted in Christ. He alone calls us and he alone loves us completely. In him is our identity anchored now and forever.
Jesus and his disciples set out for the villages of Caesarea Philippi. Along the way he asked his disciples, “Who do people say that I am?” They said in reply, “John the Baptist, others Elijah, still others one of the prophets.” And he asked them, “But who do you say that I am?” Peter said to him in reply, “You are the Christ.” Then he warned them not to tell anyone about him. He began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer greatly and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests, and the scribes, and be killed, and rise after three days. He spoke this openly…. He summoned the crowd with his disciples and said to them, “Whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me. For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and that of the gospel will save it.”
Come, Christians, follow where the Master trod, our King victorious, Christ the Son of God.
Led on their way by this triumphant sign, the hosts of God in conquering ranks combine.
O Lord, once lifted on the glorious tree, your death has brought us life eternally.
So shall our song of triumph ever be: Praise to the Crucified for victory!
Lift high the cross, the love of Christ proclaim
till all the world adore his sacred name.