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Homily preached by DLG 9-6-15: "Who Do You Say I Am?

2015-09-10 4:07 PM | Daniel

Who Do You Say I Am?

A homily preached by Daniel Love Glazer at Bella Terra Nursing Centre

September 6, 2015

Scriptures: Matthew 16: 13-17; John 20:1-18 (printed at end of homily)

I have a riddle to ask you. It is a “Who Am I?” riddle.

I shave several times a day, yet I still have a beard.Who am I?
a barber.

I dig out tiny caves and store gold and silver in them. I also build bridges of silver and make crowns of gold. They are the smallest you could imagine. Sooner or later everybody needs my help yet many people are afraid to let me help them. Who am I?
a dentist

Now I have another riddle for us. The riddle is “Who is Jesus?”

To answer this question, it may help to consider the circumstances in which Jesus lived. A little over 2000 years ago, Jesus was born into a Jewish family in the village of Nazareth in Palestine. The Jews were very proud of their religion. At a time when almost all cultures believed in many gods, the Jews had become ardent monotheists, believers in one God, the creator of all things and beings in heaven and earth. The Jews had a highly developed religion, with sacred scriptures and worship rituals that were centered at the Temple in Jerusalem. However, the Jewish nation had become a colony of the Roman Empire, which the Jews bitterly resented.

For many years, Jews had been longing for the appearance of a deliverer, whom they called the “Messiah,” or anointed one, a deliverer who would free the Jews from Roman rule and inaugurate a new era, the kingdom of God. Over the years, this anticipated deliverer had been called “the servant of the Lord,” the Son of David,” the Son of Man,” and, more recently, “the Son of God.” He was to be “the anointed one,” the Messiah.

The Jews earnestly believed that, as Moses had delivered their fathers from bondage in Egypt by performing miracles, the new deliverer, the Messiah, would similarly perform supernatural feats to free the Jews from the oppression of Roman rule and inaugurate a new era, which they called the kingdom of God. The Jewish national glory would be restored. Unfortunately, in this vision, the fixation on Israel’s temporal exaltation caused them to lose sight of the possibility that the deliverer would have the mission of inaugurating a new age of mercy and salvation for all people, not just the Jews.

This was the context into which Jesus of Nazareth made his appearance. Prior to Jesus’ ministry, his cousin John, who became known as John the Baptist, preached a compelling message of repentance to the people. If the Jews would repent, John proclaimed, this would pave the way for the coming kingdom. John also proclaimed that Jesus of Nazareth, his cousin, would inaugurate the new kingdom. And John baptized those who accepted his message as a token “for the remission of sins.”

One day, while John was baptizing believers in the Jordan River, Jesus himself appeared to be baptized. When John baptized him, an apparition appeared over Jesus’ head and a voice was heard saying, “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.” Subsequent to being baptized, Jesus, in the company of a dozen close disciples and others, travelled throughout Palestine, preaching about the Kingdom of God and healing the sick. When he referred to himself, he would use the title, “the Son of Man.”

Now, let us consider the following, as we heard from today’s reading from the book of Matthew:

13 When Jesus came to the region of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, “Who do people say the Son of Man is?”

14 They replied, “Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, Jeremiah or one of the prophets.”

15 “But what about you?” he asked. “Who do you say I am?”

16 Simon Peter answered, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.”

17 Jesus replied, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by flesh and blood, but by my Father in heaven.

This amazing declaration became the core or the Christian faith, namely, the proclamation that Jesus of Nazareth was and is actually the divine Son of the living God.

Along with this faith in the divine identity of Jesus, there comes the faith in Jesus’ message of salvation, namely that each one of us is a child of God, whom God loves with an infinite love, and that by simple faith, we can realize this saving truth.


Another scripture reading we heard today is about the encounter of the resurrected Jesus with his disciple Mary Magdalene. Jesus had told his disciples many times that he would be killed by his enemies, but that he would be resurrected on the third day. Almost none of his disciples believed him; they were convinced that Jesus could not die. But, in fact, Jesus was crucified and died a painful death. This could not have happened if Jesus were the kind of Messiah most Jews were hoping for: a deliverer who by miraculous means would overthrow the Romans and restore the material rule of King David. When Jesus was arrested, he said, Do you think I cannot call on my Father, and he will at once put at my disposal more than twelve legions of angels?” [Mt 26:53] He repeatedly said, “My Kingdom is not of this world.” And also, “For this reason I came into the world, to testify to the truth" (John 18:37) Jesus’ mission was to fulfill the will of the Father in living a full human life, thus demonstrating the ideal of human living. Ordinary men cannot avail themselves of supernatural powers to escape pain and death. Jesus could have used supernatural powers to triumph over his enemies, but he refused to do so.

He died as a human on the cross. But as he foretold, on the third day, he rose from the dead. The 20th chapter of John tells us about the meeting between the resurrected Jesus and Mary Magdalene, one of his most loyal disciples. The passage describing this meeting is one of the most profound and inspiring statements in the Bible. By telling Mary, “I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God” Jesus is affirming that not only is he the Son of God, but also that you and I—every single person—is likewise a child of God. Of course Jesus is unique in his divinity, but you and I share with him the status of children of God. This status is inherent in who we are and who God is. It is not conditional upon any concept of sacrifice. All that is necessary for us to realize the truth of salvation is simple faith. Many times Jesus told people, “Your faith has saved you” or “Your faith has made you whole.”

After Jesus’ death and resurrection, a myth arose that his death was somehow a necessary sacrifice to satisfy the justice of God, that by dying Jesus atoned for the sins of mankind. This notion is wholly false. Mankind had no curse of sin that prevented him from realizing God’s love and acceptance. The door to salvation was open to mortal man before Jesus of Nazareth was born. Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection greatly illuminated the path to salvation, but it was in no way a prerequisite. Faith alone saves us. The prophet Jeremiah had said, 11For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. 12Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. 13You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.

Let us seek God with all our heat so we can realize the truth that Jesus taught us, namely that each of us is a child of God and, by faith, can realize God’s eternal love for us.

Thanks be to God!




Matthew 16:13-17

13 Now when Jesus came into the district of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?” 14And they said, “Some say John the Baptist, but others Elijah, and still others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.” 15He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” 16Simon Peter answered, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.” 17And Jesus answered him, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father in heaven.”

John 20:1-18

Early on the first day of the week, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene came to the tomb and saw that the stone had been removed from the tomb. So she ran and went to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one whom Jesus loved, and said to them, ‘They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we do not know where they have laid him.’ Then Peter and the other disciple set out and went towards the tomb. The two were running together, but the other disciple outran Peter and reached the tomb first. He bent down to look in and saw the linen wrappings lying there, but he did not go in. Then Simon Peter came, following him, and went into the tomb. He saw the linen wrappings lying there, and the cloth that had been on Jesus’ head, not lying with the linen wrappings but rolled up in a place by itself. Then the other disciple, who reached the tomb first, also went in, and he saw and believed; for as yet they did not understand the scripture, that he must rise from the dead. Then the disciples returned to their homes.

 But Mary stood weeping outside the tomb. As she wept, she bent over to look into the tomb; and she saw two angels in white, sitting where the body of Jesus had been lying, one at the head and the other at the feet. They said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping?” She said to them, “They have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid him.” When she had said this, she turned round and saw Jesus standing there, but she did not know that it was Jesus. Jesus said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping? For whom are you looking?” Supposing him to be the gardener, she said to him, “Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have laid him, and I will take him away.” Jesus said to her, “Mary!’ She turned and said to him in Hebrew, “Rabbouni!” (which means Teacher). Jesus said to her, “Do not hold on to me, because I have not yet ascended to the Father. But go to my brothers and say to them, ‘I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’” Mary Magdalene went and announced to the disciples, “I have seen the Lord”; and she told them that he had said these things to her.


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