Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Identity Crisis?: Year A, Ordinary 21

This Week's Lectionary Texts
Exodus 1:8-2:10 or Isaiah 51:1-6
Psalm 124 or Psalm 138
Romans 12:1-8
Matthew 16:13-20

This Week's Reflection
In the gospel lesson this week, Jesus asks the disciples, "Who do you say that am?" I'm sure that it is a result of having to face hard questions last week about whether or not Jesus could be wrong, but this conjures up images for me of times in my life when I've felt insecure and unsure of myself. To my closest friends I might ask, "What do you think I'm like, really?" or, more likely, "You don't think I'm crazy, do you?" There are moments in our lives when we just need some extra reassurance that we really are okay.

Is that what was happening with Jesus? I don't think there are any scholars who would go with me on this one. And, to be honest, I'm not real sure I can either. But, I do like the question. I do appreciate considering a time in the life of Jesus when he had to look at Peter and say, "You think I'm doing this right, don't you?" Of course, he began with what all the others had to say about who the "Son of Man" is. But, just as quickly as they answer, he turns it on them, "But what about you?"

Is this a test of their own faith or an identity crisis for which Jesus needs some comfort and reassurance? Whatever it is, Peter is quick to answer. Isn't he always? "You are the Messiah, of course!" And, this seems to do the trick. For whatever it was that Jesus was looking, he got it and turns his attention away from himself and back to his followers - Peter, in particular, the rock.

There is a word for us as well. "Whatever you bind on earth, bound in heaven. Whatever you loose on earth, loose in heaven. Here, take these. They are the keys to the kingdom." And, so our own identity crisis begins.
"How can that be?" "How could God allow that kind of power to rest with humans?" "Who am I to bind or loose anything on earth, much less in heaven?"
In the Romans passage, Paul reminds us of who we are. We are "living sacrifices" with "gifts that differ according to the grace given to us." Just in case you forget who you are or what you are capable of through the power of the Holy Spirit, these new testament texts remind you. Who are you to have that power? Who are you to loose or bind on earth and in heaven? You are the very child of God, disciple of Jesus Christ, empowered by the Holy Spirit.

Isaiah reminds us too. "Look to the rock from which you were hewn, and to the quarry from which you were dug." You are a child of Abraham and Sarah and just in case you have forgotten, just in case you are having an identity crisis, to be a child of those two means you are the child of the very living God.

This Week's Artwork
(in order of appearance in reflection)
Who Do You Say I Am?
Identity Crisis by U'rouge
Lenten Solitude by Jag
Christ Giving the Keys to Peter by Guido Reni
Keys to the Kingdom by Wawi Navarroza
The Rock by Nee Christopher Lagria