The question Jesus asks of Peter in a recent Sunday Gospel story – “Who Do You Say I Am?” (MT 16:13-20) – can be taken a number of ways, both with very different meanings and intentions.
If you take the exchange between Peter and Jesus from an ‘after resurrection’ viewpoint (which is honesty how all of us now think of Jesus), then it’s an exchange between someone who knows their destiny and is supremely confident of the outcome of his trial and execution. It’s as if he’s asking “Do you know who I really am yet?”
If you take the exchange from the point of view of a man who is uncertain of himself, full of doubt, full of anxiety, full of uncertainty about their place in the world, then it’s a cry for validation, a need we all have to know are we doing good, am I on the right path, do my deeds fulfil my words or are they empty rhetoric?
As people built in the image of God, it’s good to ask ourselves that same question often: Am I focused on the values of the Kingdom – love, justice, forgiveness, mercy, compassion? Is that what my life is about?
Am I living as a follower of the God of love whose whole life was directed towards sharing his love with everyone he encountered? Does everyone who sees me also see the God who revealed himself through Jesus?
Do people look at me and see Jesus? Ultimately, my answer to that question posed “Who do you say I am?” needs to reflected in the life I live rather than the words I utter. It is through our deeds that people will come to know who we are.