Who do you say that I am? This is the central question of a disciple of Jesus. In fact, if we stay with this question it can serve as a good examination of conscience during this season of Lent. Just who is Jesus? What do I say about him? What do I believe about him? How does my life change because of what I believe about him?
One question that I ask that sometimes catches people off guard a bit is this: How do I live my life differently because I believe in Jesus? Is there any difference in the way I live my life? Or, would I live my life in exactly the same way if I did not believe in Jesus? And this is a question for everyone, not just a particular few. I, as a baptized follower of Jesus must ask myself this question just as I needed to discern that I was called to be a priest. The central sacrament of my life is not ordination but is my baptism.
And so, what is different because I believe? It is certainly the case, if I am being honest with myself that much would not change. I suspect I would still have my friends. I would be working at a job. And I would still be rooting for the Red Sox. Yet I cannot ignore the question, most especially during the season of Lent.
In every way this is the central question of Lent. Who do I say Jesus is? And as I think of my life what is it I need to do for Lent to answer that question more authentically? There must be a connection between what I do for Lent and my relationship with Jesus. And this relationship with Jesus must change my life in some way. When I answer this question, I then live the answer I give.
We know this is not an easy question to answer, because even though we might say the right words, at the same time we might not really or fully understand what the words mean. This happened with Peter. He had come to intellectual assent that Jesus was the Christ, the Messiah. But the intellectual assent had not yet fully changed his life. He did not fully understand how the actions of Jesus would be so much different than he expected.
It cannot be said enough, I think, that Lent is about a deeper relationship with Jesus and a greater desire to be active in the Church, a desire that cannot help but manifest itself in action. And so, today, think about what it is that you are doing for this season of Lent, and make the connection between that action and how it brings you closer to Jesus. Think about how this action encourages you to become more active in the Church.
For those coming into the Church, this Lent is a time of proximate preparation for their baptism at the Easter Vigil. But even for those of us who have long been baptized, Lent is still a time of proximate preparation related to Baptism. It is a time to answer fully those questions we will be asked at Easter. Do you believe in God the Father? Do you believe in Jesus, his son? Do you believe in the Holy Spirit? Just who is it you say God is? For these questions are the most important questions we can answer. “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”