In today’s Gospel, we find what just might be the greatest promise and paradox of all time. Try to hold onto your life and you will lose it forever. Let it go (for the right reason) and it shall be eternally preserved. Our ability to do the latter is the direct result of HOW we respond to the question Jesus asked and continues to ask his followers: “Who do YOU say that I am?”
Who do I say that he is? Who do I say that he is? Yikes. That is one loaded question. Not so easy to blow-off. It pierces to the core of my being. Some days, I just prefer that he not ask the question. If I am able to respond like Peter – “You are the Christ of God” – it requires a bit of follow-through on my part. In reality, it demands a total commitment and consecration. It means that I must take-up my cross and position myself in humble service to the King. It means that I must make the things of God more important than the things of Eric. And just as I am about to become completely overwhelmed in the face of my absolute inability to respond as Peter did, the Holy Spirit shows-up and reminds me that my ability to respond is due entirely to the grace of God that has been pouring into and out of my life since the moment of my conception.
I’m not sure what is greater news: The gift of God in Christ Jesus or the ability through his grace to acknowledge and receive that gift!
Bottom line: There is not a more important question in life. “Who do I say that he is?” The invitation to respond to this question is extended to all of us in every waking moment in every activity of every day of our lives. I don’t know about you, but I find it easy to get caught-up and distracted by much more insignificant inquiries: What am I going to eat for breakfast? What should I post on Facebook? Will the Chicago Cubs FINALLY win a world series? I often find it simpler to respond to the superficial rather than embrace the supernatural. But then the Holy Spirit shows-up again and reveals a deeper satisfaction in my heart when my being is fixed on him rather than me – which brings me back, once again, to that amazing promise and paradox: “If anyone wishes to come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it.”