24th Sunday in Ordinary Time
“To be, or not to be: that is the question.” This is a classic line from Shakespeare. I read somewhere that learning usually passes through three stages. In the beginning you learn the right answers. In the second stage you learn the right questions. In the third and final stage you learn which questions are worth asking.
It is also said, “Life is all about asking the right questions and giving the right answers.” The questions that we give so much attention and thinking determine, to a large extent, the way we live our lives. The questions we always ask have the power to control or dictate the direction we take in our lives.
For example: The question that may be always in your mind is: “How can I earn more money?” Or “How can I profit more in my dealings?” Or “How can I get rich or become richer? If that is the question that is always in your mind, naturally your life revolves around money and material gains.
Or the question that you are engrossed with may be: “How can I become popular and win the esteem of others?” Or “How can I get more followers on social media?” Or “How can I be of greater influence on the popular culture?” If that is the question that is always in your mind naturally your life will be focused on fame and glory.
Or the question that preoccupies you may be: “How can I have a more comfortable and convenient life?” Or “How can I enjoy life better and have more delight?” Or “How can I satisfy my desires or gratify myself?” If that is the question that is always in your mind naturally your life will be oriented towards pleasures.
So, honestly, what questions do you constantly think of? What issues or concerns do you usually entertain? What is the single most important question you have ever asked and continue to ask? It is important because, again, it has the power to lead you to a certain direction and orientation, affect the decisions and choices you make, influence the way you live your life, and define you mission and destiny in life. The most important question you ask can change your life. Are you asking the right question and giving the right answer?
In today’s gospel reading, Jesus asks an important question to his disciples: “Who do people say that I am?” Such question is also addressed to each of us. And we have to paraphrase it this way: “Who is Jesus to me?” This is a great question, the most important one. Why? Because this really is the defining question of life. Because how you answer this question will determine how you live your life. Who Jesus is tells us who we must be. What this Jesus does shows us how we must act. What this Jesus stands for should define our principles, values, and standards.
Shame on us, if we say that Jesus is the Christ, the Messiah, but our lives say something else – totally different from what we say. Shame on us, if we say that Jesus is our Messiah, our Savior, but actually we are looking for ‘salvation’ in material wealth and political power. Shame on us, if we say that Jesus is the Lord of our life, but actually we are worshipping and serving other gods or we are giving our allegiance to someone who plays god.
If we really consider Jesus as “the Christ, the Messiah,” we cannot put him inside the cabinet and just take him out when it is convenient for us to do so. We cannot confine him in just one area of our life or restrict his influence in just one aspect of it. We must allow him to be the Lord of our whole life – every aspect of it – not just our religious and spiritual life, but also our social, political, and economic life. We cannot allocate just one hour a week for him and spend the rest of our time to our projects and interests. We must devote every moment of our life to him – giving him all the glory and honor. We cannot give him just half of our heart, our mind, and our strength and the other half to our other concerns and preoccupations. We must give our whole selves to him. Our whole heart, mind, and strength must be committed to actively sharing in the life and mission of Christ. Even our education, job, profession, career, or business must be a participation in his mission.
“Who do you say that I am?” “Who is Jesus to me?” Do not answer this right off the top of your head. Look deep in your heart. Is Jesus your Christ, your Messiah, your Savior, your Lord? This is the question that will transform your life.