Who do you say that I am? Luke (9:18-24) tells us that when Jesus posed this question, Peter responded quickly. Peter typically replied to Jesus’ queries without hesitation. Sometimes, Peter’s promptness served him well. At other times, some forethought would have saved Peter a good deal of heartache. I am afraid that over the years I have shared Peter’s propensity to respond quickly with similar results. At times, hurriedly speaking up remedied tough situations. At other times, I have made things worse by opening my mouth before my good sense filtered out words which needed to remain unspoken. The good news is that I have spent a lifetime considering the question Jesus poses today. Here is my answer, Lord…
Who do You say that I am? When I was five years old, my family and I walked to church to attend my little sister’s baptism. We celebrated afterward with a family party. Our faith was extremely important to my parents and to our extended family. We marked joyful and sorrowful milestones, as well as the time in between, with acknowledgements of God’s Presence. You, my God, are the One who is always with us.
Who do you say that I am? As I grew, I learned a good deal about love. I found that, more than anything else, we all want to be loved, even when we act as though we do not need others. My parents and our extended family loved me, each in his or her own way, as best they could. Still, there were days when I felt that I was not at all loveable and that I was not at all loved. I ended those days with an aching heart. As I soaked my pillow with tears, I turned to God. You, my God, are the One who always listens.
Who do you say that I am? I clearly recall being angry with God at age sixteen. I knew deep down that I was drawn to the convent. I loved my aunts, Sister Gerard, Sister Ida Marie and Sister Marie Raoul, and I loved many of the sisters I had met along the way. I had little patience with trivial pursuits. I cared about the poor and the outcasts who tried to survive on the fringes of teenage life. I felt deep compassion for my mom who worked much harder than she should have had to work. I avoided trouble because I could not bear to give her anything more to worry about. I was angry because, just once, I wanted to be a “normal” person who did not worry quite so much about everyone and everything. I did not realize that there were lots of “normal’ people around me who shared my woes. Angry as I was toward God for making me who I am, God never stopped peeking around corners, showing up on a sunny day or smiling through the face of a friend who understood. You, my God, are the one who remains faithful to us.
Who do you say that I am? As it happened, God had other plans for me. I spent a summer during college living with two nuns. We taught English to Spanish-speaking children to prepare them for school. Sister Liz and Sister Rose taught me to enjoy life a bit more and to worry a bit less. They also encouraged me to accept a date with the young teacher who was hanging out at the rectory. The following year, I completed college, secured a teaching job for the fall, and married that teacher during the summer in between. I second-guessed myself often regarding my ability to teach and to be a wife. I persisted only because God gifted me with unexpected insight along the way. You, my God, are the God of Surprises.
Who do you say that I am? This past weekend, I found God in our sons, our daughters-in-law and our granddaughters. As we celebrated Father’s Day, my husband and I enjoyed a glimpse of love fulfilled in the remarkable people whom we are blessed to call our family. Regardless of the circumstances which challenge us along the way, our love for this family and their love for us carries us through. As we enjoyed our dinner together, I saw that God, too, has been with me during my happiest, loneliest, most frightening and challenging moments. As I smile and cry, dance and sing, fret and rejoice along the way, God is with me. When I crawl into bed each night, God wraps me in a blanket of love whether I need it or not. Who do you say that I am? You, my God, are the God of Unconditional and Unending Love.
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