In this past week’s Gospel reading (Lk 9:18-24), Christ asks the quintessential question of our faith:
“Who do you say that I am?” (Lk 9:20)
Our entire faith hinges on how we answer this very pointed question.
If, like Peter, we answer: “The Christ of God.” (Lk 0:20), then everything else should fall neatly into place. There can be no further questioning of our faith. There certainly should be no further questioning of what we believe in or how we act morally and theologically.
Christ is asking us to either accept him for all that he is, or to reject him.
It’s on this question that the arguments of our Christian brethren that feel they can pick and choose Christ’s teachings that are relevant to them begin to fall apart. For, if they cannot accept all that Christ teaches, then how can they consider him to be The Christ of God?
How can we not consider the Eucharist to be the source and summit of our faith when Christ told us “I am the living bread that came down from heaven. Whoever eats of this bread will live forever; and the bread that I will give for the life of the world is my flesh.” (Jn 6:51) if he is not The Christ of God?
If Jesus is truly The Christ of God, then how can we not consider the teaching of the Catholic Church to be divinely inspired when, appearing to the disciples after the Resurrection, Jesus said to them “’Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you.’ When he had said this, he breathed on them, (Jn 20:21-22) a commissioning that continues to this day in the conferring of the sacrament of priesthood. A priesthood in the Catholic Church commissioned when Christ said: “You are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not prevail against it.” (Mt. 16:18)
The teachings simply fall into place once we truly understand what it means to answer Christ’s question like Peter did at his institution as the fist Pope: “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.” (Mt. 16:16)
The list of what becomes indisputable when we answer this question, Who do you say that I am? is too lengthy to discuss in a blog post, there are 2865 paragraphs in the Catechism of the Catholic Church. It’s all there, and if Jesus is The Christ of God, then each of those paragraphs makes perfect sense.
As Fr. Robert Barron puts it so well (as he always does) in his Catholicism Series, if we do not answer like Peter, then there is very little to differentiate Christianity from the other world religions. If Jesus is not The Christ of God, then he is little more than a prophet, like Elijah or Mohammed, who have had (or claimed to have had) a revelation from God. If Jesus is not The Messiah, the Son of the living God, then he is little more than a new Buddha who has fond another path towards enlightenment. If Jesus is not The Christ of God, then could he be the next incarnation of Vishnu, come to teach us how to attain Moksha?
This is the quintessential question of our faith. How you answer it forms the core of what you believe and compels you how to act on those beliefs. So,…
Who do you say that He is?