Jesus' question to his disciples isn't a question at all. Rather, it's an invitation for them to proclaim their faith. The faith Jesus calls forth is faith for a lifetime journey. Though a journey of faith and a journey with Jesus, it will be a human journey nonetheless.
The journey may not be the shortest distance between points. At times the journey will lead to the victory of justice; other times it will lead to the pain of exploitation. There will be times of profound peace; there will be moments of anxiety or fear. We are only human. Our very best intentions may at times compete with our selfishness. Like a switchback trail up a mountain, our journey has a destination, but the course may be varied. We are well-advised to take the long view while on this journey, without letting setbacks deter us from our goal. In general, this includes seeking strength from our faith community and the sacraments, and in particular this entails seeking and celebrating reconciliation.
Jesus' question to the disciples is a question to us as well. We each have our own response to the question, but are we ready to face the implications of our response? In other words, do our lives, e.g., the way we spend our time and money as well as our collective choices over the past ten years, reflect our belief in Jesus and who we say he is? If we call him the Lord, then how do we worship him? If we call him servant, then in what way do we follow his example of service? If we call him teacher, then what have we learned from him? If we call him heal- er, then how well have we laid our lives open to him? If we call him an advocate of the poor, then how well do we serve the poor? If we call him a friend to strangers, then how well do we welcome people who are different? If we call him the Lamb of God, offered in sacrifice on the Cross for the salvation of the world, then what sacri- fices have we made for the good of others?
Who do you say that I am? That's an easy question. The tough one is the one that follows it: What are you doing about it?
Many years ago, I asked my first pastor why the parish didn't have a mission statement. He laughed, saying that a mission statement says nothing about what a parish really does. He went on the say that if I really want to know what a parish or any organization cares about, I should just look at the budget and the weekly calendar. Although his remarks sounded cynical to me at first, his point was valid: the way we spend our time and money, and all the priorities we set, say more about what we believe than any fine craftsmanship of words.
No matter who we say Jesus is or how well we say it, the real question is: What are we going to do about it?
P.S. I do like mission statements;
they help to focus all we do.