“But who do you say that I am?” (Mk 8:28)
Answering this question should be personal. Every Christian must respond to this question often. Most of the time we become the admirers of Christ and never try to be the true disciples. Jesus, in a way, is making His disciples reflect on their personal adherence to Him.
This question has disturbed my conscience a bit. I thought – I am a good Christian, a religious and a priest. But these, my vocations, have become my identity. They have enormously influenced how I relate myself to Jesus. My idea of Jesus is always filtered through the norms and regulations of the church and the do’s and don’ts of the religious life.
Though, right this moment, I am not able to articulate who Christ is for me, I can give an example of a young novice who was raped in 1993 by soldiers during the war in Bosnia. At that time, she wrote a lengthy letter to her mother superior when she realized that she is carrying a child. The letter is heartbreaking, but, I will give a few lines from her own writing taken from the book ‘Final Harvest’ by Wayne Weible.
“Permit me not to give you any details. It was an atrocious experience, incommunicable except to God…. In my teens, I had written in my private diary, “Nothing is mine: I belong to no one, and no one belongs to me.” Yet, one night, which I do not want to remember, some one took me, snatched me from myself and made me his…”
Then she reflects on the mystery of Christ and His suffering,
“Is my suffering and the offence endured, in comparison to that of the One to whom I promised a thousand times to give my life?… The Lord has made me penetrate the mystery of this shame, and to the religious that I am.”
Finally, she speaks about her mission of giving witness to Christ in a different way:
“I will leave with my child. I do not know where, but God, who suddenly shattered my greatest joy, will show me which path to take to accomplish His Will… I will be poor. I will don once more the old apron… To the child I am expecting, I will teach only love. My child created from violence, will be a testimony that forgiveness is the unique greatness that glorifies a person…”
Only when we stand at the foot of the cross, gazing at His pierced body can we truly respond to Jesus’ question by saying to Him: “You are the Messiah”, “Son of the living God”. (Mk 8:29, Mt 16:16)
– Fr. Ranjan D’Sa OCD