Hg 2:1-9; Ps 43:1-4; Lk 9:18-22
Who is the God of your gladness and joy? Who fills your heart with hope and glory? Who anoints you with strength each day? The God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ is the One, and there is no other. He fills us with the Holy Spirit; thus we cry out “Abba,” and we proclaim, “Jesus is Lord!” Against faithless people and deceitful men the Lord God fights our fight. The Lord God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, is our strength. Yet, there are times when we feel so far away from the One who dwells within us. So, we continue to ask, “Why must I go about in mourning, with the enemy oppressing me?” Even though we ask such painful questions, we hope in God. The Lord God sends forth light and fidelity; these lead us on into the unknown and fearful future. The Lord God brings us to his holy mountain, to this high place that we call Liturgy, and we are gathered into his glory. Indeed, we come to the altar of God, and there we give him thanks upon the harp. Such is the jubilation of the prophet Haggai, the high priest Joshua, and the remnant of the people. We, too, join in the joy and gladness of those who answer the question of the Lord Jesus in today’s gospel, “But who do you say that I am?” The answer to this question we proclaim here and at every mass. You are the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world!
As time passes and the temple of the Lord is rebuilt in Jerusalem, many of the remnant complain loudly. These objections arise especially among those left who had seen the temple in its former glory. It seems like nothing in their eyes! The Word of the Lord addresses those who complain; the prophet Haggai speaks to the hearts of the disappointed and downcast. “Take courage…do not fear…And I will fill this house with glory…greater will the future glory of this house than the former, says the LORD of hosts.” This word of comfort is not unlike the word of comfort from recent prophets among us. The ministry of Pope John Paul II began with just such a message, “Do not be afraid!” In every generation, the Lord God raises up prophets who speak directly to those whose hearts are mourning, to those whose hearts feel oppressed. At such moments, only if we listen with open hearts will we hear the Lord God speaking to us individually and as a community. Even as we hear the word of the Lord confront our fears, we receive the peace that passes understanding.
After spending time in solitude praying, the Lord Jesus turns to his disciples and asks the only question everyone must answer, sooner or later, “Who do you say that I am?” It is the gospel of Saint Luke that mentions that the Lord Jesus was praying. In his profound prayer of union, the Lord Jesus knows who he is. Neither does he need the crowd nor his disciples to inform him about his identity. Rather, it is this question that addresses who we are in relationship to him. If we recognize, as did Saint Peter that Jesus is, “The Christ of God,” then we will be rebuked and silenced. In this unexpected stillness we will hear the rest of the story, “The Son of Man must suffer greatly and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests, and the scribes, and be killed and on the third day be raised.” Once the entire paschal mystery is completed in our identity with Christ will we be able to proclaim the good news and invite all who hear us into the glory of his house. Into a glory far beyond any expectations or speculations, we are summoned by the One we name Christ. It is he who names all of us disciple, apostle, friend, beloved, bride, now and ever and forever!