12th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year C
Zechariah 12:10-11, 13:1
June 23, 2013
What defines who we are?
If someone asks you about yourself, what do you tell them? Do you tell them about your job? How about your family? How about your hobbies? How about your faith?
Which of these would you list first?
What does Paul say? “Through faith you are all children of God in Christ Jesus.” Paul says we are no longer Jew or Greek, or slave or free. These are human distinctions. None of these matter in faith. What matters to God is that we become his children in Baptism.
It’s not that these earthly distinctions don’t say something about who we are and what we are good at. In our job, we can use the gifts God has given us to make God’s Kingdom come. Our family says something about the type of person we are.
Yet, who we are is not defined by earthly things but rather by our faith in God.
To understand who we are as Christians, we need to understand who Jesus is.
Jesus wants us to understand who he is. He knows people are talking about him. So, he asks his disciples, “Who do the crowds say that I am?”
The responses all focus on comparing him to other people, John the Baptist, Elijah, or one of the prophets. Then Jesus asks, “But who do you say that I am?”
Peter answers “The Christ of God.”
Peter nails it. Yet, Jesus then tells them not to tell anyone about this. Why?
We need to understand what it means to say Jesus Christ. First, we tend to say “Jesus Christ” like a first and last name. “Christ” is not Jesus’ last name. It is a title. More correctly, we would say ‘Jesus the Christ’ but we have internalized that Jesus is the Christ so well that we treat it as part of his name.
But again, why does Jesus tell the disciples not to tell anyone about this?
Christ is a Greek word for “messiah.” The coming of a messiah had long been foretold by the prophets. The Jews had their own expectation of what the messiah would be like and do, namely become a king and defeat their enemies.
Jesus doesn’t do that, at least not as they expected an earthly king and defeat of the earthly enemies. Jesus is not an earthly king defeating the enemy but he is our heavenly king defeated our ultimate enemy, sin.
The disciples don’t know this and won’t until they see him pierced in his side and hanging on the Cross. They know he is the Messiah but they don’t understand what that really means.
It means sacrifice. It means love, love with no limits.
Agnostics or atheists look at the Cross and see foolishness. We look at the Cross and see Jesus’ love.
That love defines who we are. It makes us who we are. It leads to our redemption. It makes possible our salvation. It changes the way we look at life. It defines who we are.