A reflection by Br. Valentinus Bayuhadi Ruseno, OP
June 19, 2016 ■ 12th Sunday in The Ordinary Time ■ Luke 9:18-24
What will be your answer to Jesus’ question, “Who do you say that I am?” We may come up with multiple answers. He is my God, my savior, my friend or my brother. But, we seldom ask, “Do we really understand Jesus’ question? Do we get the right answer? Why is it that Peter would confess that Jesus is Christ of God in the first place?
Christ comes from a Greek ‘Christos’, meaning Messiah or the Anointed One. In the Old Testament, the Anointed One of God refers to the great kings of Israel like Saul and David. Less often, the anointed one applies to prophets and priests. They were called as such because they were anointed with the sacred oil before they assumed the important office. They are leaders of the people as well as God’s representative. When God chose David to lead His People, He instructed Prophet Samuel to go to Bethlehem to house of Jesse and look for David. When the holy prophet found him, he anointed David with the sacred oil. The Spirit of the Lord then rushed and filled upon David (1 Sam 16:1-14). Under King David, Israel reached its pinnacle. Yet, after his demise, Israel’s glory slowly fading and even disappeared altogether. Since then, the Israelites long for the coming of the Anointed One who will restore their glory.
Jesus definitely was aware that He is the Anointed One. In the beginning of his preaching ministry, Jesus went to the synagogue in Nazareth and proclaimed, “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to bring glad tidings to the poor. (Luk 4:18).” Yet, Jesus avoided public proclamation that He is the Christ. He knew well that He would be misunderstood by the Jews. He never came as a political liberator nor a military chieftain. Thus, He waited until the best time arrived.
The time reached fulfillment when Peter was able to answer correctly. Tired of Roman oppressions, the entire Israel, including Peter, was impatient for the coming of the Messiah. When Jesus nodded that He is the Christ, Peter and other disciples would not have a second thought. They would follow their Messiah until the New Israel is born. For Peter, his answer is more than making a confession on Jesus’ identity, but promising firm allegiance to Jesus. Yet, again Jesus had to remind them of the false image of Messiah. He would be rejected, persecuted and even murdered. Following Him means also suffering the same fate as their Master.
When Jesus confronts us with this question “Who do you say that I am?” it is not about giving personal and favorite status of Jesus. Following Peter, our answer is fundamentally about radical commitment to Jesus. It means to follow Him for better or worse. It entails sufferings and cross. Even we may lose our life. We can easily and joyfully sing and praise Jesus in worship meetings, but do we get involved in dirty works of helping the poor? We are proud to have our wedding at the big Church with glamorous celebration, but are we patient enough to endure the trials of marriage life ‘until death do us part’? We are called Christian, because we bear Christ in us. But, do we live like Christ’s image in the world?
To answer rightly, we need to get the question correctly. Have we understood Jesus’ question “Who do you say that I am?” Have we dared to give the right answer? May St. Paul reminded us who we are, “I have been crucified with Christ; yet I live, no longer I, but Christ lives in me (Gal 2:19-20).” ■
Br. Valentinus Bayuhadi Ruseno, OP is a student brother from Palangkaraya, Indonesia. He made his profession to the Dominican Order on May 7, 2010. He finished his Bachelor of Sacred Theology at the Pontifical University of Santo Tomas, Manila, Philippines ■