This question is just as important to us today as it was when Jesus asked his disciples the same question some two thousand years ago. The answer is wide and varied as attested to in the many books written about Jesus and the many denominations who claim to follow him. There is also a vast array of pictures, paintings, documentaries, and movies. Through each medium, we are given a view of the Jesus of history or the Christ of faith, some emphasizing more the humanity of Jesus and others more the divinity of Jesus, and some a balance of both the human and the divine. Debate has continued from whether Jesus was God or only human to did he ever really exist at all?
When I taught fifth and sixth-grade students at Rosarian Academy, each Easter Season, I assigned my students the task of drawing a picture of the Resurrected Jesus. I quickly noticed a common characteristic of their artistic renditions: Jesus consistently did not have a beard. At first, I started to hand back the pictures to say they needed to add a mustache and beard but I quickly stopped myself. I realized I had made a mistake. This is how they saw Jesus from their perspective at their age.
The way we talk about and express Jesus may actually say a lot more about us than Jesus. The portrait I posted above is the Warner Sallman painting he titled, “Head of Christ”. I chose it because this was the portrait of Jesus I grew up seeing in our home and when I close my eyes and talk to Jesus this is often the image that most comes to mind for me.
Seeking to know Jesus better, I have two bookshelves with books just on Jesus, though for the writing of this blog I have gone back to the earliest, primary sources, the Gospels. I read the daily Mass readings each evening the evening before, pray with them, and have shared some of my reflections with you. Hopefully, they have provided some food for prayer, reflection, and practice.
“But who do you say that I am?” Jesus asks his disciples. It is an important question to meditate on, especially in our time of uncertainty and unrest. I invite you to do so this Lord’s Day and through the week. Please feel free to post your response whether positive or negative. I would be interested to read how you answer Jesus’ question.