“Who do you say I am?” Jesus asks in Sunday’s Gospel. But Peter’s answer may not mean what he expects it to mean.
by Jerry Windley-Daoust
(Jen Schlameuss-Perry is on retreat this week.)
This Sunday, we continue reading from Paul’s Letter to the Galatians, in which he tells them that, by virtue of their baptism, they are “clothed in Christ”—a neat metaphor that suggests they (and we) have taken on a new identity . . . and like modern-day identity thieves, this new identity gives us access to everything that belongs to Christ.
But lest we think that this new identity means an easy life—one without difficulties, hardships, and sacrifices—the Gospel is intended to set us straight. To Jesus’ question, “Who do you say I am?”, Peter easily answers: “The Christ of God”—that is, the anointed one, the messiah. But Jesus does not praise Peter’s answer, instead offering a shocking clarification: To be the Christ means to “suffer greatly.” More shocking still, we are called to share in this suffering for the sake of the Kingdom of God. Jesus’ assessment of the fate of the messiah is affirmed by the Church’s choice of the first reading, in which the prophet Zechariah foresees that the savior will be “pierced.”
All of which may raise in the mind of sensible people the question: Why be Christian, if being Christian doesn’t keep us from suffering? The answer is contained in both the prophet Zechariah as well as Jesus’ assurance: When we suffer for the sake of the Kingdom of God, “a spirit of grace” is poured out on us, and paradoxically, we discover that by sacrificing our lives for the sake of love, we have not lost our life, but gained it—and so much more.
You can read this Sunday’s readings here:
Break Open the Word with Your Family
What question does Jesus ask? What is Peter’s answer? If Jesus asked you the question, “Who do you say that I am?” how would you answer?
Today’s readings touch on the question of identity—who Jesus is, but also, who we are. As the Catechism teaches, identifying with Christ does not stifle our unique identity, but brings out our true identity in its fullness. So . . . who are you in Christ? What is your true identity? How does this differ from who people say you are?
Being Christian involves a radical commitment to what is good, true, and beautiful, and in a fallen world, such a commitment will inevitably result in suffering. How do you suffer for the sake of Christ?
A little lectio
The ancient practice of prayerfully reflecting on bits of Scripture is known as lectio divina. Want to try it out with your family? Head over to Lectio Divina for Kids to find out how to adapt this prayer practice for your kids.
A little Bible study
Want to do a little Bible study with your kids? Here are some tips:
- During Ordinary Time, the Church pairs the Old Testament and New Testament readings in a way that each sheds light on the other. Ask your kids to look for the common theme connecting the two readings. (Sometimes it’s obvious, sometimes it is subtle.) How does the “dialogue” between the readings help you understand them better?
- Get a New American Bible, Revised Edition, and take a look at the footnotes for these readings. How do they change your understanding of what is going on?
- Take a look at the context for the readings—what happens before, or after?
- Read the NABRE’s introduction to the book of the Bible that the readings are taken from. How does that help you understand the readings?
- If you don’t have a copy of the NABRE at home, you can view it online at the USCCB website at the Daily Readings web page. (The link will take you to today’s reading; click forward or backward on the dates to get to Sunday’s readings.)
For even more resources for breaking open this Sunday’s readings, head over to The Sunday Website.
The image for Breaking Open the Word at Home is taken from a 17th century illuminated manuscript by an anonymous (but very talented) artist. The text is from the beginning of the Book of Sirach, chapter 1, verses 1-12, which begins: “All wisdom is from the Lord and remains with him forever.”