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Saturday, 11 June 2016

Reflection/Homily: Twelfth (12th) Sunday of the Year C



Theme: Who is Jesus for you?

Personal identity simply means the sum total of all those elements and factors that make a person who he is. It is the unique characteristic of a being. This personal identity reflects the way people see and understand a person. Today, we shall look at the personal identity of Jesus and that of his followers. In the gospel reading (Luke 9:18-24), we see Jesus investigating into his personal identity or we can say, evaluating those characteristics by which people knew him. To discover this he asked his disciples “Who do people say I am?” Upon their response, he asked them “But you, who do you say I am?” Peter stood up and gave a personal response of his understanding of the identity of Christ by responding: “The Messiah of God.”


We observe that the crowd had diverse understanding of the identity of Christ. Some may have said he was John the Baptist because he went about preaching repentance and the forgiveness of sins. Others may have said he was Elijah because he went about performing miracles and doing good works. The rest said he was one of the former prophets perhaps because he went about rebuking people for their evil deeds. Peter’s confession though inspired by God thus became a sincere representation of the manifestation of Jesus as the Messiah in his life. We recall that in Luke 4:38,39, Jesus manifested his messiahship when he healed Peter’s mother-in-law of a high fever and saved Peter from distress.

Today, Jesus addresses this question to us as individuals. Jesus says “after all you have heard about me and all you have experienced me do, who do you say I am?” What is your personal understanding of Christ? Of course, we might begin to describe him with wonderful attributes: “the great physician, mighty one in battle, great provider, etc. these names exalt his omnipotence. But today, Jesus is interested in our understanding of his identity as Jesus the Sufferer. That was why after Peter’s confession, Jesus went on to talk about his suffering and death.

When we meditate on the things Christ did for us, do we remember his suffering and death? He not only gave us employment, husband, wife, or solved our problems, he also suffered and died for our sins and requests that we suffer with him. So do you accept the cross that comes your way as a true sign of discipleship? One’s cross is that suffering one has to endure for the sake of the kingdom of God. It could be rejection, humiliation, persecution or even want.

The first reading (Zech. 12:10-11, 13:1) also presents us with the identity of Jesus the sanctifier. In Jesus we find the living spring that cleanses us from sin and impurity. This spring flows from the Sacred Side of Christ through the sacraments and sanctifies us. That is why when we are soiled with sin, we look on the one we have pierced with our sins and run to him for sanctification. Through this sanctification we are saved and that is why the second reading (Gal. 3:26-29) presents us with the identity of Jesus the Saviour. In this reading, St. Paul talks of faith in Jesus. Faith in Jesus is the recognition that Christ is capable of saving us through the sacraments of the Church. 

Here, St. Paul talks of the sacrament of baptism through which we become primarily, children of God. This sacrament first saved us from original sin and still saves us from every form of distinction among the people of God. Baptism incorporates us into the family of God where the Scriptures say “everybody is a first born son”. The identity of Jesus is inexhaustible. We have only looked at a tripartite perspective as Jesus the Sufferer, Jesus the Sanctifier and Jesus the Saviour. In the identity of Jesus however, we discover our own identity firstly as co-sufferers with Christ who should pick their crosses and follow Christ daily. Secondly, as people sanctified by his blood who ought to strive for perfection and thirdly as people saved through the sacraments of the Church. This should make us strive for eternal salvation at the end of time. But our personal understanding of Christ is still needed to enable us join the psalmist in saying “For you my soul is thirsting O Lord my God”. God loves you. 

Homily for 12th Sunday in Ordinary Time, By Fr Munachi E. Ezeogu, CSSp


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