When we read, examine, and meditate on the Gospel of this Sunday, September 12, many questions will surely arise from Jesus towards us, and from us towards Jesus. Jesus knew perfectly his identity and what the response of his disciples would be when he told them the origin of his identity. If Jesus asked us at this very moment, who is He for us, what would be our sincere, frank, and honest answer? Would our answer be the same or identical to Peter’s? Jesus went out with his disciples to the villages of Caesarea Philippi and on the way, he asked them: “Who do the people say that I am?” They answered him: “John the Baptist; others Elijah; still others one of the prophets.” He kept asking them: “But who do you say that I am?” Peter replied: “You are the Christ.” Then Jesus ordered them not to talk about him with anyone (Mark 8: 27-30). I am sure that if we did a survey of the identity of Jesus, the answers would be different because each person would answer according to their relationship and intimacy with Jesus. All the answers are very valid because each one would answer with certainty who Jesus is for him or for her. Would our responses be based on emotion, passion, devotion, and piety? Or perhaps our responses would be based on works of charity and mercy?
Each of us can honestly answer who Jesus is to us, based on the second reading of the Apostle James. What use is it, my brothers and sisters, to say that one has faith if one does not have works? Can faith alone save us? If a brother or sister is naked and has nothing to eat, and one of you tells them: “Go in peace, bundle up and eat,” but you do not give them what is necessary for their body, what is the use? Such is faith: if it has no works, it is completely dead (James 2, 14-17). Our relationship and intimacy with Jesus must be accompanied by works of charity and mercy; otherwise, our relationship with Jesus would be incomplete. It is very important to pray, meditate, and talk with Jesus; all of this would undoubtedly help us to practice and carry out what we gain from those moments of prayer and intimacy with Jesus. I imagine that, if our prayer is sincere, Jesus himself will inspire us and show us how we can assist, and help those most in need. As the word of God says, “there is more joy in giving than in receiving.” And also, as Saint Teresa of Calcutta says: “We have to give until it hurts.” How wonderful, rewarding, and uplifting it would be for all of us to practice our faith with works of charity and mercy. We would have a more humane, friendly, and supportive world.
Let us ask the Holy Spirit to inspire us more and more each day to put our faith into practice with works of charity and mercy. Let us open ourselves to the grace and inspiration of the Holy Spirit so that it is He who tells us what to do or how to act in front of the needy. For they too are sons and daughters of God. I imagine that the more intense our friendship and intimacy with Jesus, the more we will resemble Him; to be compassionate, merciful, generous, caring and considerate with all our brothers and sisters. Amen.
With love and respect: Father Alberto Villafan, ofm.
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