That is the question Jesus asks his followers in today’s Gospel. As he travels with them into Caesarea Philippi, he asks what people are saying about him. They report the various suppositions people have made (John the Baptist, Elijah, etc.). He then turns the question on them: But who do you say that I am?
It is a good question to ask ourselves: Who do we say Jesus is?
I’ve prayed with this passage and this question many times and the truth is that I have answered the question differently at different times. Some aspects of the answer are easy and unchanging. The words friend and guide are always part of the answer. In some sense, those are the easy parts of the answer.
I’ve struggled lately with what I say in response to the question beyond things like friend and guide. And I think we are meant to struggle with the question – not to simply spout lines from the Catechism or repeat lines like “the way, the truth” or the “alpha and omega”, but to think hard about how each of us individually answers the question of who we think Jesus is.
I think perhaps the best way I can answer the question right now is to say that Jesus is that which convinces me of the reality of God’s presence within me. That is, that that events from the Incarnation through Pentecost reveal that we cannot be separated from God because God is in us and we are in God.
There is a shift from the Old Testament. In the Old Testament we get clear indications of God’s love for his people, but God seems to dwell near his people, not in his people. God revealing himself in Jesus changes that. Jesus means that everything is infused with the real presence of God.
Is that a fully satisfactory answer? I don’t know. But right now it is the best I can do.