I am

May 10, 2013

Dear sisters and brothers,

I am taking the good news today from Mark 14:53-65.

They led Jesus away to the high priest, and all the chief priests and the elders and the scribes came together. Peter followed at a distance into the high priest’s courtyard and was seated with the guards, warming himself at the fire. The chief priests and the entire Sanhedrin kept trying to obtain testimony against Jesus in order to put him to death, but they found none. Many gave false witness against him, but their testimony did not agree. Some took the stand and testified falsely against him, alleging, “We heard him say, ‘I will destroy this temple made with hands and within three days I will build another not made with hands.'” Even so their testimony did not agree. The high priest rose before the assembly and questioned Jesus, saying, “Have you no answer? What are these men testifying against you?” But he was silent and answered nothing. Again the high priest asked him and said to him, “Are you the Messiah, the son of the Blessed One?” Then Jesus answered, “I am; and ‘you will see the Son of Man seated at the right hand of the Power and coming with the clouds of heaven.’ At that the high priest tore his garments and said, “What further need have we of witnesses? You have heard the blasphemy. What do you think?” They all condemned him as deserving to die. Some began to spit on him. They blindfolded him and struck him and said to him, “Prophesy!” And the guards greeted him with blows.

Jesus’ reply reminds me of God’s reply from the burning bush to Moses about what name to use in telling the Israelites that the God of their fathers had sent him to lead them out of Egypt, “I am who am.” I don’t know if Mark intended to echo that revelation. However, Jesus also had been sent by the God of their fathers to lead them into the new promised land, the kingdom of God.

“Are you the Messiah, the son of the Blessed One?” Even after all those years of worshipping God, of keeping His commandments, of offering sacrifices, they still couldn’t bring themselves to utter His name. To do so was blasphemy. For the first time in Mark’s gospel Jesus claims his sonship and his mission as the Messiah.

He revealed himself as the one he truly was. He stood before his accusers completely vulnerable, unmasked, transparent. What does he get in return? Just what we expect: condemnation, mockery, humiliation, even punishing blows. Is it any wonder that we are so reluctant to reveal ourselves, to make ourselves vulnerable to cruelty?

God has made me who I am. He wants me to claim my identity as His son. He wants me to undertake and complete the mission He has in mind for me. Am I willing to stand up and be judged? Do I have the courage to withstand the repercussions? It is easy to claim my sonship as a Christian and Catholic among other Christians. Am I willing to risk revealing my identity to unbelievers or atheists? Am I ready to be a nonconformist, to jeopardize being accepted and esteemed, to speak out for what is morally right and ethically just? It is easy to be silent.

Jesus sealed his fate, accepted his destiny with no chance of reprieve, when he replied, “I am.” He knew the incredible suffering that awaited him and yet he revealed himself as the Son of God. I don’t know how I will be accepted in many circumstances, but God is urging me to claim my sonship, to have the courage to reveal my identity, to strive to build His kingdom in the face of possible rejection, condemnation, and opposition. Jesus warned that it would be extremely difficult and dangerous, yet his disciples revealed themselves after his resurrection and countless more have followed. They give me inspiration and courage.



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