Twenty-First Sunday in Ordinary Time

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

Jesus is a white guy with a beard.
He’s that blond-haired dude 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.
He’s a man with good morals and some powerful gifts.
He’s a make-believe story that has been blown out of proportion.

Jesus is just a guideline how we should live.
Only one girl said, “Jesus is the Son of God. My Savior.”  Good for her!  She’s the Simon Peter of our times and speaks for the rest of us.  But I’m shocked at what so many people think about Jesus.  No wonder Pope Francis is stressing that we need a new evangelization. 

Here’s a reply by a class of young kids when they were asked who Jesus is.  One child said, “Jesus is a girl.”  A boy replied, “No, he’s not.”  “Yes, she is!”  “NO, Jesus is a BOY.”  “Girl.”  “BOY.”  “GIRL!”   Drifting from the original question another child said, “Jesus creates apples.”  When asked about Christmas many of the kids thought it was the birthday of Santa Claus.  And when a young girl was asked how the wise men were guided to the cave in Bethlehem she replied, “They used Google Maps.”

St. Matthew didn’t take a street survey asking people, “Who do you say think Jesus is?”  But he did gather together what many said about him.  The people of Nazareth said, “Is not this the carpenter’s son? … and they took offense at him.”   Herod declared, “This is John the Baptist, he has been raised from the dead.”  Seeing Jesus walking on the waters of the lake, the disciples cried out, “It is a ghost.”   A Canaanite woman addressed him as, “Lord, Son of David.”   Others said he is “Elijah, or Jeremiah.”  Jesus called himself, “The Son of Man.”   And God the Father said, “This is my Son, the Beloved.”   

“The Beloved,” that’s the Father’s preferred title for Jesus: “This is my Son, the Beloved, with him I am well pleased, listen to him,” (Mt 17:5).  And what does Jesus tell us? He reveals that the Father loves us even as He loves his Son. Jesus said, “Father, you have loved them even as you have loved me” (Jn 17:23).  We who are bruised reeds and smoldering wicks, even we can sing, “I am my Beloved’s, and my Beloved is mine.”  And who is our Beloved?  It is, “Jesus, the Son of the Living God.”  How blessed we are!  We are greatly loved!