In our faith we believe that Jesus, when he was on earth, was both (and equally) fully divine and fully human. This is one of those mysteries of our faith that can prove to be such a quagmire for many people, but it can also be a place where rewarding reflection can take place.
Take today's Gospel selection from Matthew where Jesus asks the disciples who people say that he is and they tell him the word on the street is a bit confused: some say John the Baptist resurrected, some say Elijah returned, others Jeremiah, and others a prophet. Then he asks them But who do you say that I am? And Simon Peter wins the prize by identifying him as the Messiah, the Son of the living God. This is one of the few times Simon Peter gets it right, while Jesus is alive. Here he is not the usual bumbling foil the Gospel writers make him out to be.
Jesus replies with accolades for Simon Peter and tells Simon Peter how Jesus will build a church around the rock that Simon Peter will become because of this profession of faith.....But what I'm curious about this morning is how did Jesus feel when Simon gets it. The human side of Jesus must have been conflicted: joyous that he is recognized and known for who and what he is by those closest to him, and yet I wonder if he was terrified too....It is one thing for a person to call themselves something (such as the Son of Man), but to be recognized by others, to be called by others something that you know that you are, but that is not widely known or understood, combined with the enormity of what is to come in Jesus' life, must have caused Jesus some concern. As fully human, those emotions must have been there within Jesus, just as they are with us.
I do not often call myself "Father" or ask people to do so, but I do think of myself and identify myself as a priest. The first time someone called me Father (as a title, not a parent) brought me the joy of being recognized, known for who and what I am, deep within me. It also kindled in me a fear and a terror: a holy cow, this is really real now moment. It is one of those yin and yang moments of life, great joy in being recognized and terror at being recognized. I find a comfort in knowing the God who loves us all, as we were created, can understand and support us through those moments of terror and uncertainty because God lived it.
Copyright 2008, John F. Dwyer. All Rights Reserved