Readings: Isaiah 22:19-23; Romans 11:33-36; Matthew 16:13-20
I believe today’s Gospel is topical but rather dangerous for us who live in an information-driven society.
Problems arising from our capacity for rapid communications are distorted information, denial of information, rumors passed off as data. Jesus asks, “Who do people say that I am?” His question evokes the entire range of rumors already in circulation.
There’s actually a deeper danger here, however, and one peculiarly relevant to Jesus question. Whether reliable data or misinformation, isn’t it totally off the mark to answer Jesus’ question with any answer that reduces him to another statistic? Or any answer that would simply label him?
Apart from theological concerns, to merely label you–with a name, a job, a role, a function, a background, am ethnic identity–as data, could never answer your question, “Who am I?” A human being is not an interchangeable bit of data.
I can really answer that question only in terms of your connection to me, who you are in the web of lives that shaped you and whom you impact. Only then can I begin to explore the depth of your question.
When I don’t do that–and in our information-driven culture, people rarely do that–I reduce you to a category, a race, a factor, convenient, inconvenient, threating or helpful or indifferent. And I’m stuck in my own web of fears, needs, projections, pre-occupation, priorities…
That’s a very small and stifling realm.
Such a response could never begin to address who Jesus is. To really answer that question could change my life. And as much as I claim I want to change, how eager am I to pay the price of actually changing?
What am I ready to risk to answer Jesus’ question? What am I ready to let go of, to experience who Jesus really is?