Today’s Lectio Divina:
When Jesus arrived in the villages of Caesarea Philippi, He asked His disciples, “What are people saying about who the Son of Man is?” They replied, “Some think He is John the Baptizer, some say Elijah, some Jeremiah or one of the other prophets.” He pressed them, “And how about you? Who do you say I am?” Simon Peter said, “You’re the Christ, the Messiah, the Son of the living God.” Jesus came back, “God bless you, Simon, son of Jonah! You didn’t get that answer out of books or from teachers. My Father in heaven, God Himself, let you in on this secret of who I really am.” Matthew 16: 13-17 (MsgB)
Ignatian Truth #4: Ignatian spirituality is all about Jesus. His life, His death, and His resurrection.
It’s been my personal experience, over my 60+ years of following Jesus of Nazareth that He always starts and ends His conversations with me with the same line He used so effectively here with His first-century followers…
“Who do you say I am?”
You see, the way I respond to this question says as much about me as it actually does about Jesus! And while this text has been used over the centuries by the Church to remind us how important it is for unbelievers to finally come to the same place of understanding we find Peter (“You’re the Christ, the Messiah, the Son of the living God”), I must tell you that I believe Jesus’ question is much broader and more extensive than just that!
Because, if we’re really gut-honest with our own realities of life, there will be some days (hopefully many!) when I’m full of faith and able to say without a shadow of a doubt what Peter said.
But here comes the hard part.
There will be other days, when my situation in life may actually be affecting me so deeply, that my “belief” in Jesus as Lord and Savior of my life may feel very much in question. Ever been there? So, take heart, my friends, when Jesus comes along asking you His burning question.
“Who do you say I am?”
As one pastor once quipped to me, “You know, Marty, when Jesus asks you a question, it’s not as if He doesn’t already know the answer!” You see, when Christ asks us, “Who do you say I am,” it’s truly a gut-check, a reality test…a divine opportunity to reach deep down inside ourselves and tell the Master what we honestly feel at that given moment.
As I see it, this is why Ignatius, in his Spiritual Exercises, begins and ends this long journey into Christian discipleship by focusing, nearly exclusively, on Jesus of Nazareth, our Master, our King.
So, praise God for the times when my answer to Jesus’ question is as certain as was Peter’s. But also keep in mind that 1) there were eleven disciples in this group conversation who said nothing (hmm?), and 2) even though Peter seems to have the full revelation of who Jesus actually is; Jesus states it quite honestly here that even Pete didn’t come up with this great answer on his own! In truth, it’s been my experience that the revelation of “who Jesus actually is” will grow in our hearts and minds as we continue on with Him, spending more and more time with the Master, Himself.
One final thing.
In all honesty, from Ignatius’ perspective, it really doesn’t matter, in the long run, how others around you might answer Jesus’ question. You see, at the end of the day, the only thing that really matters in your life, as it pertains to your spirituality, is who you say Jesus is…or is not!
And it’s this point of your life today that really matters to God and to you.
You see, Jesus never forced people to believe something just because other people believed it. I think that’s why Jesus always invited people to simply come with Him and see. In my mind, He never thumped a Bible, never threatened folks with hell and damnation, and never insisted that people believe in something because religion told them to.
He only used action words such as “Come,” “Follow,” and “See.”
So as Ignatius invites us into this journey in discipleship, let’s start here.
Who do you say Jesus is?
Be honest. Don’t give an answer you want others to hear. Give your honest answer back to the Master. Be truthful. Be real.
And you know what?
It’s my belief that He will respond in the same way He responded that day to His twelve friends. When it was all said and done, and despite their brilliant answers or no answer at all, He still invited all of them to “Come,” “Follow,” and “See.” And that, as they say in the Bible, is the true, good news!
My prayer: Jesus, I thank You that this passage of Scripture doesn’t insist that all of us need to know everything about You long before we set our hearts toward You. Today, Lord Jesus, I believe that You are worthy of my full attention, and like Peter and all the others, I’m confident that over time, the Holy Spirit will continually give me more and more revelation of the fullness of who You truly are. For Your name’s sake. Amen.
My questions to consider: So, honestly, where am I today in responding to Jesus’ question? Can I be completely truthful with Jesus with my response, or do I feel the need to give the best religious answer in order to proceed properly? Can I believe that Jesus of Nazareth will not reject me even if my truthful answer seems much less grandiose than Peter’s?
How are you experiencing God as you ponder on these Ignatian truths today?
Over a period of twelve weeks (3 sessions per week), we will take this journey into Iggy’s Biggies, contemplating twelve foundational truths found within the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius. We suggest you bookmark our blog series homepage to keep all the writings in one place for your future reference. Take note that each blog session begins with a short scripture reading. My suggestion is that you don’t hurry through, or skip the text, but treat it as a Lectio Divina reading where you slow down and sit a bit with God’s Word, allowing it to penetrate and influence you as you read.
If you’ve never journeyed through the Exercises, might I suggest that you find a qualified spiritual director and ask them to accompany you along the way? Here at The Contemplative Activist, we can offer a good number of highly qualified folks to do just that.
Oh, and if you enjoy what you’re reading here, we encourage you to share this page and our website, The Contemplative Activist, with your friends!