Who do you say Jesus is?

| Deacon Brian Park | September 13, 2012 | 0 Comments

“Jesus and his disciples set out for the villages of Caesarea Philippi. Along the way he asked his disciples, ‘Who do people say that I am?’ They said in reply, ‘John the Baptist, others Elijah, still others one of the prophets.’ And he asked them, ‘But who do you say that I am?’”

This Sunday, we will once again hear this famous Gospel passage, and many preachers this weekend will probably focus on this ever-important question of Jesus, “Who do you say that I am?”

You might hear a homily in which the priest or deacon asks the congregation something like this: “Who do you say Jesus is? Is he just a good teacher who lived 2,000 years ago, or is he the main character in some made-up story, or is he truly the Son of the Living God, and the Lord of your life? Who do you say Jesus is?”

If you hear such a homily this weekend, great! Every one of us needs to be able to answer the question: Who is Jesus to me? Is he really the Lord of my life? Do I daily seek to do his will and obey his commandments? Am I committed to following him no matter where he leads?

However, there can be a danger in putting too much focus on the question, “Who do you say that I am,” if from this question you think that you somehow get to decide who Jesus is; that you have the authority to determine Jesus’ role in the world; that you choose whether or not Jesus is going to be a good teacher, a humble prophet, a made-up story or the Son of God.

The fact of the matter is that Jesus is the Son of the Living God, the Savior of the world, and this is true no matter what any individual person believes about Jesus. Jesus is not John the Baptist. Jesus is not Elijah. Jesus is not one of the prophets. In this Sunday’s Gospel passage, Peter answered the question correctly — Jesus is “the Christ.”

Responding to truth

This truth, that we do not determine who Jesus is, can be a helpful reflection as we prepare to enter into the Year of Faith, because faith is ultimately a response that we make to truths which God reveals to us.

Through sacred Scripture and tradition, God has revealed to us who Jesus is, and it is our duty to respond to this revelation with an act of faith, by choosing to believe, with the help of God’s grace, that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God.

Faith always begins with what God has revealed to us, and then we receive these truths in a spirit of humility and gratitude. We can only answer the question, “Who do you say that I am,” because Jesus has first revealed to us who he is — our Savior and our Lord.

Deacon Brian Park is in formation for the priesthood at the St. Paul Seminary for the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis. His home parish is St. Joseph in West St. Paul, and his teaching parish is St. Agnes in St. Paul.


Sunday, Sept. 16 – 24th Sunday in ordinary time

  • Isaiah 50:5-9a
  • James 2:14-18
  • Mark 8:27-35


Who do you say Jesus is? Do you ever try to form Jesus in your own image? How can you come to understand better who he truly is?

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Category: Sunday Scriptures