All I can say was it was embarrassing! I could have sworn the person I ran up to in the store was a buddy of mine from High School. I just knew this was going to be a fun reunion, and we’d laugh about that time we all… and we’d talk about the old days and comment on how hard that Algebra class was and how the teacher was so difficult, and then we’d go have lunch together and catch up.
But it wasn’t him. And all my mental joy in anticipation of a reunion with an old friend evaporated in a moment of clarity. Sorry, fella.
Don’t you just hate it when that happens!
Mistaken identity can really cause problems both great and small. The truth is the more I study the Fathers of the Church, the more I allow the rhythm of the liturgy and prayers of the Church to wash over me, the more I live this Orthodox faith on purpose, the more I am convinced the primary result of faithfully living this eternal wisdom is an increasing clarity as to Who God is and who I am. In fact, I will go so far as to say that if your practice of the faith isn’t revealing God more and more to you and isn’t revealing your own true self to you on a regular basis, you just ain’t doing it right!
In our Gospel Lesson today in Luke 9:18-22 we see the tipping point in the lives of the Disciples of Jesus as God reveals the cosmic truth of just Who is standing before them. Jesus asks the Million dollar question!
“Who do the people say that I am?” And they answered, “John the Baptist; but others say, Elijah; and others, that one of the old prophets has risen.” And he said to them, “But who do you say that I am?”And Peter answered, “The Christ of God.” But he charged and commanded them to tell this to no one, saying, “The Son of man must suffer many things, and be rejected by the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised.”
The truth is I will never know myself, dear one, I really mean “never,” until I answer the question Jesus asked His disciples – Who do YOU say I am? Your answer to that question is the gateway to all the spiritual resources given by the Holy Spirit to the Church to set you free to become who you really are. When you know Him, you will begin to know yourself.
This is why the treasures of our faith can never be reduced to mere nostalgia or thoughtless repetition, but must be the faithful practice of a heart awake to the magnitude of God becoming Man for my sake! If Christ really is fully God AND fully Man, “begotten, not created, of one essence with the Father” as we insist in the Creed, then knowing Him is the gate I must pass through to know myself. And as I know myself better in Him, I am able to love even my enemies, and to build healthy relationships, and to constantly move my life by the grace of God toward more freedom and becoming “like Christ.” The truth is I’ll call eternity “hell” if I don’t do this all-important work now! It is only as much as I resemble Jesus that I will be able to call His Home, my home.
Today, Who is Jesus? What steps, I mean concrete and practical steps, will you take today to know Him better? Will you pray? Will you stand before His icon and gaze into His Face to allow His image to imprint Himself in your heart? Will you see Him in those around you and learn your own capacity for love and compassion? All the universe is rapt with anticipation waiting to see how you will respond and if you will allow yourself to be unveiled as the being you were created to be. The universe longs to tap you on the shoulder and say “Hey, aren’t you….?”