In today’s Gospel from John, the Pharisees ask Jesus, “Who are you?”

How would you respond to that question? In a society that often seems obsessed by credentials, many tend to respond with what they do professionally (“I’m a law professor”) or where they hail from (“I’m a New Yorker”) or their pedigree (“I’m the eldest daughter of a NYC police officer”) or what school they went to (“I’m a graduate of NYU Law School.”)

As I read this Gospel passage again this morning, I remembered a sermon in which a priest talked about how we define our worth as persons. Referring to our obsession with credentials, he observed that many people have the tendency to look outside themselves to find their worth and their definition of themselves. 

But when the Pharisees ask Jesus who he is – essentially asking him, what are you credentials – his response is simply “I Am.”  Not “I am a carpenter” or “I am a teacher” or “I’m from Nazareth” or “I’m someone who elders listened to when I was twelve years old.” Just “I Am.” That’s all Jesus felt he had to say. Nothing external required. 

And nothing external is required for us: I am created and held continuously and lovingly by God.  Period.  I need nothing else, nothing external, to define me or to give me value.  I need not do or produce anything to give me worth.    

Believing that – not in our head but in the depths of our being – is one of the basic struggles we have as human beings.  Jesus got it.  He knew exactly who he was. 

Do you?