“‘Who then is this about whom I hear such things?'” And he kept trying to see him” (Lk 9:9).
Herod Antipas, ruler over Galilee and Perea, heard stories about Jesus. The range of his thoughts, expressed by Luke, are confusion to curiosity. Herod may have started to feel concern over the possibility of a growing revolt, some guilt for his execution of John the Baptist, or just curiosity to see what this man was all about and if this Jesus could accomplish even half of the things Herod had heard about him. One question that did not seem to cross Herod’s mind was if he had any interest in changing his life and becoming a follower of Jesus.
Herod was not the only one in Luke’s Gospel who asked questions about who this man Jesus was. Nor did the asking of those questions die with Jesus on the cross. They continued after his resurrection and ascension, they continued into the first centuries of the Church, which led to the calling of the first ecumenical councils which dealt directly with who Jesus was, and they continued in each following century and continue today. There are even at present in some academic circles, the question arising as to whether Jesus even existed at all. The answer to whether or who Jesus is matters.
One could ask why does this question about Jesus persist? One answer is that we are finite beings seeking to understand an infinite Mystery. The full comprehension of the reality of Jesus existing as fully human and fully divine, dying on the cross, conquering death through his resurrection and ascending to the Father transcends even the wonderful intellect and ability to reason that we have been blessed with. Also, Jesus’ invitation is a universal but personal one.
Jesus called the Twelve, one by one. Jesus called Mary Magdalene, St. Irenaeus, St Thomas Aquinas, St Francis and Clare of Assisi, St Catherine of Siena, St Teresa of Avila and St John of the Cross, St Ignatius, St Mother Teresa, Thomas Merton, Dorothy Day, and he calls each of us to himself as well. He did not call us to just merely embrace a new philosophy, a new ethical way of life, or even a new religion. Jesus called and calls us to be a part of his Body, the Mystical Body of Christ.
Who is Jesus? Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the living God, who became incarnate, who became one with us in our humanity so we could be one with him in his divinity. May we say yes to his invitation and continue to walk this journey together. Life with Jesus isn’t perfect, and we will at times echo St Teresa of Avila, who stated after she was thrown from a carriage into a mud puddle, “If you treat your friends this way, it is no wonder you have so few.” But we will also experience moments of inexpressible joy, of wonder and exhilaration, and feel blessed when Jesus works through us, and loves through us to be present for and help others. Let us be grateful for this journey with Jesus and continue to look forward to what lies ahead as we are perfected in Jesus! If there are any on of you sitting on the fence, jump on down, and come along!
Not only have their been questions about who Jesus is, there have been many pictorial representations of Jesus. Here is one painting from Fr. John Giuliani – Indigenous Jesus.