Today we hear what might be the most important question of all time: Who is Christ?
When Jesus asks his disciples who He is, they answer by telling Him what everyone else says. But that wasn’t what Jesus was asking. So, He asks again, gently probing His friends, “Who do you say that I am?”
This is something that we, too, need to answer for ourselves. Our answer to this question changes everything. We have a Catechism definition of Who Christ is, but Who is He to you?
Because, yes, Christ is the “Only begotten son of God, born of the Father before all Ages. Begotten not made, consubstantial with the Father.”
But that joy I feel as my favorite 7-year-old, Blue, runs into my arms at school pick-up—that’s Christ. When I’m on a run, silently admiring the creation that surrounds me, and I feel another set of footsteps guiding me along—that’s Christ. The overwhelming sense of peace that somehow overcomes me even as I scramble to meet a lab deadline—that’s Christ.
This personal understanding of Christ is critical. Each and every one of us is called into relationship with Him, getting to know the One Who knows every hair on our head. May we let that spark in us new life.
We see this new life in Simon, as he tells Jesus the truth that He believes in the core of his being, that Jesus is the “Messiah, Son of the Living God.” Simon is made new first by gaining a new name—Peter—but then also in his calling to become the rock on which the Church is built.
I can only imagine how Peter felt as he was being called to this. He never would’ve seen it coming, and I’m sure he had all of the doubts running through his head that we can relate to at some point or another.
But Lord, I’m not faithful enough.
Not strong enough.
Not qualified enough.
Something our Chaplain at the Saint Thomas More Catholic Center at Yale likes to remind us is God doesn’t call the qualified—He qualifies the called.
David brought a rock and a sling to fight a giant who was equipped with a sword. Moses was terrified to approach the Israelites. The apostles brought 5 loaves of bread and 2 fish to a dinner with 5,000 people. We don't always feel ready for what we are called to, but that's not ours to worry about.
I can just picture Jesus looking right into Peter’s eyes and saying, “You are enough, Peter, because you are Mine.”
All we need to do is take that courageous first step into His grace, trusting Who He is.
As we hear in our 2nd reading, “For from Him and through Him and for Him are ALL things.” We are each called to lean into God’s greatness and let His glory penetrate our hearts and work through us. When we do this, we get our own keys into the Kingdom of Heaven, like Peter did. Though we will never entirely understand the fullness of God, we gain little glimpses into the goodness of God working through us and others. Definitely easier said than done, though!
In thinking about how to step into this radical trust of Who God is, I find it helpful to look to people who have gone before us, who have chased personal holiness and embodied our individual calls to sainthood.
In my life, I think of my grandma, who taught me through her long battle with rheumatoid arthritis what it means to find hope in the most desolate of places, and how to be that hope for others. She used to sit down every day and write letters to people in her life, even when her joints barely allowed her to grip the pen. Some of these notes would be penned to people who seemed to be 5 degrees separated from her: “Oh my friend Sheila's niece's friend is getting a surgery so I’m just going to send her a note”—she’d say things like that. Cards from my Nana covered every inch of my desk, fostering a letter-writing habit in me and also reminding me to celebrate life no matter if it was a holiday. The blessing of another day on this earth was reason enough to celebrate. My Nana didn’t get new life through a cure to her physical suffering. However, she still found new life in Christ through the purpose He was commissioning her to, starting with the abilities she already had and her surrender to His plan trusting in Who He is to her. Christ’s work was carried out through each stroke of a hospital pen in Hackensack New Jersey. My Nana gave me peeks into the Kingdom of Heaven, for sure.
I think of Saint Monica, whose feast we celebrate today and who is attributed to one of my favorite quotes: “Nothing is far from God.” Talk about an example of radical trust in God. Saint Monica, in all of her suffering, so desperately desiring the reformation of her wayward son, wept every night as her prayers seemed unanswered.
Her son, Saint Augustine, is now venerated as one of the most important Fathers of the Church. She trusted in Who God is to her, and leaned on that through every joy and sorrow. Saint Monica is a testimony to our God Who overcomes alldistance and can reach much further that we can imagine, calling us into His grace. Who are we to put bounds on a boundless love? His love is eternal. “For from Him and through Him and for Him are ALL things.”
God wants us exactly where we are, to let Him into our hearts the way He embraces us in His. No matter the abilities or disabilities you possess, closeness or distance from God that you feel, He is already right there with you. He is ready to open your heart to the infinite possibilities He alone offers. All He asks is for that first step, coming to Him and yearning to understand Who He is in our life.
Then, He will lead us each on that unique path that He has already so perfectly designed to bring about His glory right in our midst. He equips us with exactly what we need to carry out His mission in our lives, and He walks with us every step of the way. Accepting this call, leaning into the discomfort, trusting that He is good always, gives us our own little keys into God's kingdom. Little glimpses of Our Christ right here in our midst, living and moving within each of us, every moment of the day, lovingly guiding us into His embrace. That is Christ.
Mary Margaret Schroeder
Mary Margaret Schroeder
Mary Margaret is a senior at Yale University studying psychology and neuroscience. She is a student leader at the Saint Thomas More Catholic Chapel & Center on campus, as well as a catechist and a State Lead for Catholic Relief Services. Mary Margaret is an avid runner, serving as president of the Yale Club Running Team and a member of the Yale Triathlon Team. She also leads a social mentorship group at a nearby special education school. Working in the Clinical Affective Neuroscience and Development Lab at Yale, Mary Margaret’s research interests relate to PTSD diagnosis and the neural impacts of trauma. In May, she will start graduate school at the University of Notre Dame to earn a master’s degree in Education through the ACE Teaching Fellows program. In her free time, Mary Margaret loves to spend time with her five siblings, bake, and rave about NJ bagels.