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Who Do You Say that I Am?

Mary Jo Tully
Chancellor, Archdiocese of Portland

Saints Peter and Paul, Apostles
Acts of the Apostles 12:1-11
2 Timothy 4:6-8, 17-18
Matthew 16:13-19

Whether we like to admit it or not, most of us are at least somewhat concerned about the opinions of others. How much we care about their opinions has more to do with our relationship with them than with the status of the individuals themselves. Only those who truly know us have valid opinions and those who know us best have the truest opinions.

One of my most vivid memories from the time of my mother's death is my first thought when she died. It was not grief. It was not shock. It was not even loss. I wondered at that moment what she thought about me in the clarity of eternity.

During her lifetime, I never had to ask my mother who she thought I was or what I meant to her. Her support and affirmation were often expressed and always important to me. Because I loved her, I always tried to be my best self as her daughter. Still, I always believed that she thought too highly of me. At that first moment of her death, my only consolation was my faith that there is no disappointment in eternity.

Jesus asks a question in today's Gospel. "Who do people say that I am?" What do they think about me,” he inquires. He doesn't seem particularly interested in the answer. After all, “people” are not those who know Jesus best. But then he asks those closest to him: "Who do you say that I am?" His delight in the disciples’ response is much like the joy we have when people who know us best declare their love for us. We want to give them something in return--a piece of ourselves and Jesus does just that. Into the hands of his followers he places the future of the Church.

This is the Church that today celebrates not only that we know who the Lord is but that he knows who we are. This is the Church that is challenged to reach out to others in affirmation and support. We announce to the world at this Eucharist that we believe in the Lord. We proclaim that we believe in one another.

There is another step that we might well take. Reach out to someone you love and tell that person of your affection. Give those nearest you the opportunity to tell you of their love. This is indeed what the Lord did when he asked the questions of his disciples. Maybe those who love us are only waiting for the questions that will let them not only declare their love but know of our care for them.

Reader Comments

Posted: Thursday, June 26, 2014
Article comment by: Rolando Rodriguez

"Reach out to someone you love and tell that person of your affection."
I love you, dear sister, and I thank you for encouraging me to share that love with others.
”Venga Tu reino! ”Venga por Marķa!
Paz y Bien, Rolando, OFS.

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