Church of England Diocese of Leicester Billesdon cum Goadby and Rolleston

Reflection 23rd August

23 Aug 2020, 12:30 p.m.

A reflection on Matthew 16.13-20

Enigmatic I suppose that might be a word you’d use to describe him

Intangible certainly, a mystery, undoubtedly.

A man who refuses to be named and labelled,

who refuses to be put in a box,

who refuses to conform to expectations.

So you should have seen their faces when he asked them,,,

‘who do they say I am?’

Who?

Now there’s a question.

Who?

Not what – it’s always about the relationship

Who am I (to you?)

That should have given them a clue

But no, instead it seems they regurgitate all the gossip of the synagogue.

Some say John the Baptist

Who does?

Can you imagine it? What were they thinking?

We saw them together, when it all began, at the Jordan River

John was there with him when the heavens opened

When the thunderous voice was heard.

How could he be the one he spoke to that day?

How could he be the one who was not the one?

How could it be?

And then Elijah.

I understand of course the longing for Elijah to come once more

But really?

Elijah or Jeremiah – now you see

This is not about what God has promised

This is about a man who makes them uncomfortable

Who speaks like a double edged sword that pierces through their thoughts,

Dividing even bone and marrow with the truth

Uncomfortable.

Unafraid of those in power.

These are the signs of a Prophet.

For thus God says

And thus we squirm,

It seems the greater the power, the more uncomfortable they feel

A voice that proclaims what is right amidst the chaos

A voice that doesn’t fear the power of a King – just a fox,

Or of Religion – white painted gravestones

Or wealth – sell everything.

Uncomfortable you see.

Then came that moment,

Jesus turned to us and said…

But who do you say I am?

Suddenly there was nowhere left to hide.

This was a question that wouldn’t be satisfied with regurgitation

This required a fully digested, absorbed answer, which came from the heart.

The silence was so thick you could cut it with a knife.

Then…

“You are the Christ”

It came from nowhere, surprising even him I think

The others stood open mouthed

The truth that stood in the silence…

sufficient to split mountains

The stillness that surrounded…

A different kind to the awkward silence,

there was a peace about this truth spoken from the heart.

What will be next for he who speaks such words from God

(we wondered)

Surely this truth will mean he understands all there is to know

Yet it will be only moments before he will speak the opposite.

In time he will forget, desert, deny.

Eventually, beyond the three long days they will meet again,

The Christ will again speak, on a beach at breakfast

Who do you say that I am?

A question that lingers, a mystery that remains,

Answers given echo through history

Voices ringing round one another always waiting for today’s answer…

Who do you say that I am?


Revd Canon Alison SW Booker