Thursday of the Twenty-Fifth Week of Ordinary Time

[Scripture Readings: Haggai 1:1-8; Lk 9:7-9 ]

“Who is this about whom I hear such things?” King Herod asked one of the world's most important questions: “Who is Jesus?” The scribes and the Pharisees wanted to know, “Who is this man who speaks blasphemies?” The disciples of John the Baptist asked, “Are you the one who is to come, or do we look for another?” In the house of Simon the Pharisee, those reclining at table said to themselves, “Who is this man who even forgives sins?” On the sea of Galilee Jesus' disciples say to one another, “Who is this who commands the sea and the winds and they obey him?” And Jesus Himself asks the question, “Who do the multitudes say that I am?”

A random survey on the streets in New York City asked people to answer the same question: “Who is Jesus?” Their replies are shocking for a country that is predominately Christian. Here are some of the responses to the survey:

Jesus is a white guy with a beard.
He is blond haired dude that they show in pictures.
Jesus is a story made up by someone.
Jesus is someone special, in the same way that we are all special, for everyone is special.
He's a man with good morals and some powerful gifts.
He's number one.
Jesus is a Gandhi type guy.
He's a make believe story that has been blown out of proportion.
Only one person said, “Jesus is the Son of God.”

The correct answer to this question is the fundamental difference between two billion Christians and the other five billion non-Christians in this world. It is what divides Christians from the next largest religion, 1.5 billion Moslems, for whom Jesus is a prophet but not God. A Moslem who tries to convert to Christianity can even be sentenced to death. Another billion people have no faith at all, in any religion. There are about 900 million Hindus, 400 million Buddhists, and another 400 million Chinese who follow other traditional beliefs. And there are only 14 million Jews. The remaining population of the world is divided among a multitude of smaller religions. The vast majority of people in this world don't know who Jesus is. And many who do know, act as if they didn't. The need for evangelization is far greater than it was in the time of the apostles.

All four gospels were written to answer this question, “Who is Jesus?” At the end of his gospel, St. John gives the answer: “All these things have been written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the God, and that believing you may have life in His name” (John 20:31).

That is what we believe. And we are here this morning to be united with the one whom we love, Jesus, the Son of God, and to pray for those who do not know who he is.