It takes courage to be who God created you to be.
Back in the seventies there were several really bad musicals about Jesus. Andrew Lloyd Webber’s “Jesus Christ Superstar,” and John-Michael Tebelak’s “Godspell.” In Godspell Jesus is dressed or depicted as a clown. Also, in the seventies, Jesus was depicted as a revolutionary, a proto type of the later Marxist revolutionary Che Guevara, who, after his death was depicted in Christ life images. The seminal song of “Jesus Christ Superstar” is that sung by Mary Magdalene “I don’t know how to love Him” which has the line “he’s just a man, an ordinary man.”
The question Jesus asks in the Gospel reading two weeks ago is the central question of Christian faith: “Who do you say that I am?” or “Who am I”” The question is not directed by Jesus to Himself but to others. “Who do people say I am?” How we respond to this question really makes all the difference for our lives; here on earth and in heaven. If our answer is that Jesus is just a man, or Jesus is a great prophet, or philosopher, or teacher, or even a holy man. Well then, why listen to Him more than some other holy man, or wise man, or teacher, or great leader or revolutionary. He might as well be a clown; after all, “he’s just a man.” And only a fool listens to a clown.
If Jesus is the Son of God as Peter says, well now listening to Him makes all the sense in the world – this one and the next. Only a clown would fail to listen to Him because if He is God well then, He is the Teacher, The Philosopher, The Leader, The Prophet and His words should spark a revolution – in our hearts, our lives and our families. Of course, as soon as we acknowledge who He is the Devil, as he does in this Gospel, will immediately try to get in the way. “OK He is the Son of God, but “what does that mean for you, after all, you have a life to get on with, children to take care of, a difficult marriage, a job you hate, you just don’t have time to worry about who Jesus is. Acknowledge Him and move on.” Good old Satan, always working us.
The truth is that that failing to listen to Jesus make all the difference in our lives. After all, knowing who He is gives authority to what He says and what He asks and failing to listen to Him and do what he asks is really to be a clown who fritters away life and possibly, even worse, the lives of the one’s we love. If Jesus is God – for God’s sake, listen to Him, follow Him, live the life He wants you to live. Every other path, way, road, is leading to nowhere, is pointless, and is a waste of a life.
Last word. “Who am I.” Most of us go through life and for one reason or another we fail to live the life that we know in our hearts we should be living. There are many causes for this, usually fear is at the root of it. I’m either emotionally fearful, psychologically fearful, I’m afraid of what others will think of me or say about me. I don’t say what I should say, I don’t stand up for what I should stand for, I remain silent, I might even join the crowd in supporting things I shouldn’t, because I want to fit in. How sad it is to reach the end of our lives and look back and realize that I was so afraid or so concerned about what others thought that I lived the life they wanted, and I never lived my own life. Only the life God wants for you is the one that will fulfill you – it is the only life that is worth living. So, ask yourself “who am I?” “What life am I living?” We only have one life – don’t waste it.
Jesus says that whatever we bind on earth will be bound in heaven. It seems to me that if we fail to be who God created us to be while on earth, how will we be who we should be in heaven. An eternity of failure is surely a hell to live through. It is not easy to be who God created us to be, to live as God wants us to live, to stand and speak for God in our world, it takes courage, but it is that courage that leads to eternal rewards.