Friday, 25th Week in Ordinary Time
When we want to get to know someone better or more deeply, when we want to enter into a special friendship with someone, we do something to encounter that person on a more personal level. For example, we would schedule specific times and specific places to be with that person. It is not enough to read something about the person. It is not enough to get to know that person from another. It is not enough to spend a few minutes with that person once – not even twice or thrice. Rather, we must spend time, both quantitatively and qualitatively, to be with that person – talking and listening.
The same procedure holds if we want to get to know Jesus better. We must arrange to encounter him, to meet with him, and talk with him on a regular basis. We schedule specific times and specific places to be with him. We call these encounters or meetings daily prayer (pananalangin). Daily prayer is simply taking time out of our schedule to regularly meet with Jesus and to get to know him better.
It is only by spending enough time in prayer that we can give a personal answer to a personal question Jesus is asking us. Jesus’ question in today’s gospel passage to his disciples is also addressed to us: “Who do you say that I am?” It is one of those classic eternal questions all of us have to confront. Indeed, it is a personal question that demands a personal response from each of us. Right here, right now, Jesus is asking you: “Who do YOU say that I am?” “Who am I to you? What do you know of me?” The Lord does not want an answer or answers based only on what you have read, heard or learned from catechesis, theology, books, sermons, talks or recollections. He wants an answer that comes from your heart – an answer based on your personal encounter with him. He wants an answer that is the fruit of our prayer.
“Who do you say that I am?” can be paraphrased as, “Who is Jesus to me?” This is a great question, the most important one, because this really is the defining question of life. “Who Jesus is to me” determines how I live my life. It is essentially connected to my own identity – how I view myself in relation to Jesus. “Who Jesus is to me” tells me who I am, who I am meant to be and to become.