21st Sunday Ordinary Time – Year A
Adapted from Father Bob's Homily– Franciscan Friars of the Atonement
Not many people are honest enough or brave enough to ask the question in today’s Gospel.
Just think about you asking some friend or perhaps, more courageously, some enemy –
· Who do you say that I am?
· What do people think of me?
· Or perhaps more importantly, asking of ourselves – Who am I?
I recently read a story about a doctor in a New York City Hospital who makes time to attend Mass every day.
When someone told him how impressed they were, he said he was not always so faithful.
It was a patient who made him look at his life.
He said he would do rounds every day with his students examining patients.
As they entered the room, the patients would look intimidated and apprehensive except one man, an Irish man in his sixties who was very sick.
He said the man would always greet them with “Hey Guys”, as if they were a bunch of teenagers.
Sometimes the patient would make the students nervous, as one said – “He seems to look right through us.”
The man grew worse, he was quickly deteriorating.
The doctor went to see him alone and the man opened his eyes with a grin and said “Well, took you long enough” – like he had been expected the doctor.
The doctor did not say anything as he read the chart.
Then the man shared with the doctor a single remark that was half a question and half something else.
He asked with a smile, “Who are you?”
The doctor first thought that because of the drugs that he did not recognize him, but as if sensing what the doctor was thinking, he said, “Dr. Smith, who are you?”
The doctor started to say, well as you know, I am a doctor, and then he just stopped cold.
It was hard for him to describe or sort out what was going on in his head.
All kinds of thoughts went through his mind which all seemed true and yet somehow less than true.
Yes, I am this, but I am also that, but that is not the whole picture.
The doctor’s confusion must have shown because the man gave him a grin and closed his eyes.
The doctor asked, “Is there anything I can do for you?”
The man said “no, I’m just tired.”
He died a few hours later.
The doctor could not get him or his question out of his mind– Who are you?
For years he had trained as a physician and got lost in his profession.
He realized that the man had taken away his degree, tossed it back to him and said – but who are you, really….beyond the degree?
This story can doe the same for us if we will allow it.
With humility and honesty let us ask:
· Who are we beyond the facade, the front that we put up?
· Who are we beyond our job title, degree or trade?
So often we try to be like the people we see in the commercials who are handsome or beautiful, well-dressed, smiling, smelling great, hair gleaming, homes comfortable, and lives that are stress-free.
There is no blemish, lots of portrayed laughter and joy, and the good life abound, but that is not real, that is not who we are.
Who are we, truly, beyond all the externals?
Who do people say that I am, is the question that Jesus asks in today’s Gospel?
How we answer that question says a lot about us.
· Does Jesus have any effect on our day to day living…on the way we treat others…on the way we treat ourselves?
There is a dangerous trap that many people fall into and that is why we try to make Jesus into our image and likeness.
Yes, we humans often do this.
Many of us have been guilty in one way or another, trying to make Christ in our own image.
We want him to be like us.
We want Jesus to be the kind of Savior that we want.
Sometimes we fail to realize that we do not call Jesus, He called us to follow Him.
Yes, He has called you, not only Priests, Deacons, or Religious, but you in a very personal way.
It was His cross that was signed on your forehead and because of your Baptism you are a disciple of Christ.
The question that we should all ask ourselves is – are we living as a Disciple of Christ?
Christ is here with us now in a special way, and someday He will come in power and glory to place all creation at the feet of his Father.
But today, He comes quietly, invisibly, and wherever you are, look for Him:
· In the preached word.
· In the host at Holy Communion time, look for Him inside of you.
· Look for Him at home on the faces of your dear ones
Look for Him, especially where He told you to look.
· In the hungry and thirsty,
· the stranger and the naked,
· the sick and the imprisoned,
· and the drug addicted.
In closing I have just a few short questions for you to prayerfully ponder,
· If anyone is looking for Christ, will they find Him in you?
Or do they have to look for another?
· If Jesus were to ask you:
– “Who do you say that I am?” –
– “Who do you say that I am?” –
What would be your answer?