National Catholic Register

Sunday Guides

‘Who Am I?’: Christ’s Four Answers

User's Guide to Sunday, June 23

BY Tom and April Hoopes

June 16-29, 2013 Issue | Posted 6/23/13 at 6:08 AM

 

Sunday, June 23, is the 12th Sunday in Ordinary Time.

 

Solemnities

Monday, June 24, is the Solemnity of the Nativity of St. John the Baptist. Luke 1:5-25 tells the story.

Saturday, June 29, is the Solemnity of Sts. Peter and Paul, apostles.

 

Readings

Zechariah 12:10-11; Psalm 62:2-6, 8-9; Galatians 3:26-29; Luke 9:18-24

 

Our Take

"Who do you say I am?" asks Jesus. This is the famous question that Peter answers on behalf of the apostles: "You are the Christ of God."

But looking deeper in the Gospel, you will find two things.

First, Jesus deepens Peter’s answer by sharing four surprising facts about himself. Second, Jesus adds phrases that apply each of these four facts to us:

1. "The Son of Man must suffer greatly."

When Peter calls Jesus "the Christ of God," he means that he is God’s anointed, a leader who will triumph over Israel’s foes. Surely, the Christ is not supposed to suffer greatly. But Jesus applies the way of suffering to us: "If anyone wishes to come after me, he must deny himself." Gains in this world are not our goal; victories in the next, even at the cost of this world, are.

2. "He must be rejected by the elders, the chief priests and the scribes."

If the Christ is not a political leader, he must be a religious leader, right? No, says Jesus. It is important to note that Jesus doesn’t reject religious leaders. They reject him. Elsewhere, he counsels about following their decrees, but only insofar as they model him. In our time, too, our faith must not depend on the faith of anyone else. Jesus applies this attribute to us when he says a follower of his "must take up his cross daily and follow me."

3. "He must be killed."

For Peter, hearing this probably seemed a bit much. But Jesus says he won’t just suffer for his people. He will give all, to the last measure. He applies this to us when he says: "Whoever wishes to save his life will lose it." As Pope Francis recently put it, "Following him means going out of ourselves and making our lives not something we ‘possess,’ but a gift to him and to others."

4."On the third day [he must] be raised."

The last surprising thing Jesus says about himself is that he must rise from the dead. The Resurrection is the key to all of the other facts about Jesus. His way of humility has power because it doesn’t end in self-destruction, but in making room for God’s victory. Jesus applies this to us by saying: "Whoever loses his life for my sake will save it." His way is not a ticket to misery, but to joy; it isn’t a way to destruction, but to freedom.

We are the body of Christ: We can expect to share his way of the cross and his resurrection to glory.

Tom and April Hoopes write from Atchison, Kansas,

where Tom is writer in residence at Benedictine College.