August 4, 2022
by Vivian Amu
St. John's Parish
click here for photo and information about the writer

Memorial of Saint John Vianney, Priest
Lectionary: 410

Jeremiah 31:31-34
Psalm 51:12-13, 14-15, 18-19
Matthew 16:13-23

Praying Ordinary Time

Pope Francis' homily on the 160th anniversary of the death of St. John Vianney

Weekly Guide for Daily Prayer

Parenting Our Adult Children

Being a Christian has never been easy, not for the disciples and not for us, especially when we begin to romanticize what it means to be a Christian and to practice discipleship.  It is easy to forget what we have decided to take upon ourselves when we remain Christian.  It seems straightforward until we ask ourselves, "Who is God?  How should I relate to Jesus?  What’s my purpose?  In God's church, where do I fit in?  Am I willing to answer the call to the unknown when Jesus calls my name?  When Jesus asked his disciples to tell him who everyone thought he was and who they think he is, it was obvious they knew and felt Jesus was someone special.  They recalled names of those they held as important, special, and holy from their knowledge.  Peter went further and said what we have come to know and believe, that Jesus is the Christ.  Knowing the Lord, knowing Jesus, means being open to all that is revealed to us and allowing God to do what must be done to save our souls, regardless of whether we agree with the process.

So, who is Jesus to you?  What would we say if he should ask us that question today?  Would it be easier to answer the question now that we know what Peter said?  After all, Jesus confirmed Peter's answer as correct.  It took me a while to re-visualize and re-experience Jesus through the re-telling of His story from scripture and through prayer.  Some days Jesus is like an older brother to me; some days, Jesus is like a best friend; some days, Jesus is that random stranger at the bus station who says something profound, but I didn't catch his name.  Sometimes Jesus is so far out of reach that I don't know what to say or how to feel when I pray for his guidance.  Sometimes, Jesus is the one who waits for me to wake up in the morning so that his smile is the first thing I see.  Sometimes, Jesus is the only one I feel understands what I, as a human being, go through when I have been betrayed or accused falsely or misunderstood.  Sometimes Jesus is the one I call on when I need a walking partner and need to vent or even laugh, or when I need someone to walk me home.  So, what would you say if Jesus should ask you, "who am I to you?"  

For many years my idea of Jesus was clouded by the Jesus character I had seen in movies.  My mental image of Jesus looked like the Jesus depicted in paintings, books, and sculpted statues.  When most of us visualize Jesus in prayer, our image of Jesus tends to look like one of those depictions, or we might even find ourselves redesigning the face of Jesus to look like someone we like, so we might listen better or approve.  The problem is that when Jesus then shows up as someone we don’t recognize, or someone we don’t think has anything to tell us, like a five years old child, a homeless man begging on a street corner, or a person whom we don't find physically attractive, we resist the message.  We decide how the conversation will go.  We get in the way of God's work instead of fully investing in it and being open to whatever gets revealed in the process.  We lose sight of the unexpected message revealed by God; we lose sight of who Jesus is.  To me, Jesus is not just the Son of the living God and the Christ; Jesus is a profound message of love, and the message opened says, "I love you to death." These days, that message is all I need.  May we have the faith to see and know Jesus and also the courage to accept what comes along with following him and being loved.

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