Last Sunday, we read how Jesus put his disciples on the spot

Along the way he asked his disciples,
“Who do people say that I am?” 
They said in reply,
“John the Baptist, others Elijah,
still others one of the prophets.” 
And he asked them,
“But who do you say that I am?” 
Peter said to him in reply,
“You are the Christ.” 

Peter answered the question right; but in the very next paragraph, he shows that he's not yet willing to put that answer into action. He says that Jesus is the Christ, the anointed one, the savior, the one who came to suffer and die for them. He knows this from the prophesies he would have studied, and from Jesus' own words; but when it becomes evident that Jesus actually intends to follow through, Peter "rebukes" Him.

And Jesus gets mad. The thing that makes Jesus mad all through the Gospels is when people talk as if they know, love, and serve God, but they don't act that way. 

In the first reading, James prepares us for this lesson:

What good is it, my brothers and sisters,
if someone says he has faith but does not have works? 
Can that faith save him? 
If a brother or sister has nothing to wear
and has no food for the day,
and one of you says to them,
“Go in peace, keep warm, and eat well, ”
but you do not give them the necessities of the body,
what good is it? 
So also faith of itself,
if it does not have works, is dead.

Indeed someone might say,
“You have faith and I have works.” 
Demonstrate your faith to me without works,
and I will demonstrate my faith to you from my works.

Thousands of years after Jesus walked the earth, we need to understand that Jesus wants to put us on the spot, asking us the same question He asked His disciples: Who do you say that I am? If we're catechized, we'll know the right answer; but the hard part is putting those words into action.

If we say that Jesus is merciful, do we put that into action by passing the mercy we've received on to other people? Or do we say, "You are merciful, Lord; but I'm doing all right. Now this guy, over here, with the annoying Facebook status, and the backward politics, and the irritating personal habits, and the painfully evident sins -- he's the one who should be on his knees"? If so, we don't really mean that Jesus is merciful.

If we say that Jesus hears the cry of the poor, do we put that into action by sharing what we have? Or do we keep our wallets closed, because the poor who have been put in front of us don't seem sufficiently humble, or sufficiently grateful, or sufficiently pathetic? If so, we don't really mean that Jesus hears the cry of the poor.

If we say that Jesus hears us, do we talk to Him? Or do we go days or weeks without praying, or do we pray with half our attention? If so, we don't really mean that Jesus hears us. 

If we say that Jesus is the door to eternal life, do we try to help other people find and open that door? Or are we too embarrassed to be known in public as a Christian? Or maybe we imagine that the people we meet aren't worth bothering with, because they're too stubborn, too rude, too stupid, or too tacky to waste time evangelizing? If so, we don't really mean that Jesus is the door.

If we say that Jesus forgives, do we trust Him when He wants to forgive us? Or do we think we're not worth the trouble? If so, we don't really mean that Jesus forgives. 

If we say that Jesus is the Lamb of God who offered Himself up to be sacrificed, do we imitate His meekness?  Do we make an effort to speak the truth with gentleness, or do we wield the truth like a club? If so, we don't really mean that Jesus is the Lamb of God. 

If we say that Jesus is pure, do we receive Him as worthily as we can manage? Or are we careless and sloppy, and slouch up the Communion line week after week, without preparing before or offering thanksgiving after? If so, we don't really mean that Jesus is pure. 

If we say that Jesus is the king, do we worship Him, and acknowledge that His ways are above our ways ? Or do we treat Him like a gumball machine, as if we're entitled to favors because we dropped in the coin of obedience? If so, we don't really mean that Jesus is king. 

If we say that Jesus is the savior, do we put that into action by asking for salvation? Do we go to confession, and try over and over again to change our lives? Or do we say, "Sure, you're the savior. Now go save someone else"? If so, we don't really mean that Jesus is the savior. 

Who do we say that Jesus is? Jesus doesn't ask the question to our faces, but we still need to ask ourselves this question which is central to our faith. Who do we say that Jesus is?

We can say whatever we want, but if we have the courage to find out what who we really think Jesus is, all we have to do is look at our actions. That's our real answer.