12th Sunday in Ordinary Time
By Elizabeth Chesley-Jewell
One of the major premises of the Catechesis of the Good Shepherd is that children can do many things by themselves. If they are shown what to do, have all the materials readily available, and are then given the space to do the task, they will succeed. The materials that the children use in the atrium depict central moments in the gospels. These small dioramas and figures allow the children to discover, by themselves, the relationship that they have with the Good Shepherd.
In the gospel today Jesus asks the disciples, “Who do the crowds say that I am?” The crowds say He is John the Baptist or Elijah. Peter, who knows Jesus more intimately than the crowds, correctly identifies Jesus as, “The Christ of God” or “the Messiah.” Peter gives the correct answer but is told by Jesus not to tell anyone. Jesus then tells his disciples the exact way one can come to fully understand who He is, “If anyone wishes to come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it.” In other words, one must come to fully know Jesus, fully enter into relationship with Jesus, by oneself. This knowing is deepened when one can connect ones own suffering to Christ’s. This not only allows one to recognize Jesus as Messiah and Lord but enables ones heart to be open to a strong personal relationship with Him.
As the children in the atrium come to know Christ as the Good Shepherd who knows and loves His sheep, we too can have a deep relationship with Christ by placing our own burdens, pain, and suffering at the foot of the cross. It is in our complete and total vulnerability before our Lord that we come into total union with Him. Every believer acknowledges Christ as Messiah but each one of us lives a different life, carries a different cross and through that cross we all come to Jesus in our own unique way. If Jesus asked you today, “Who do you say that I am?” would you be able to take faith in your relationship with Him and answer Him honestly? Will you come as yourself to know Him by yourself?