Christ, Our Identity; Who Are You? ~ Br. Mark Dickson-Patrick, Novice


Reading 1 – Isaiah 8:23—9:3

First the Lord degraded the land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali; but in the end he has glorified the seaward road, the land west of the Jordan, the District of the Gentiles.  Anguish has taken wing, dispelled is darkness: for there is no gloom where but now there was distress.  The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; upon those who dwelt in the land of gloom a light has shone. You have brought them abundant joy and great rejoicing, as they rejoice before you as at the harvest, as people make merry when dividing spoils.  For the yoke that burdened them,
the pole on their shoulder, and the rod of their taskmaster you have smashed, as on the day of Midian.
Responsorial Psalm – Psalm 27:1, 4, 13-14

(1a) The Lord is my light and my salvation. 
The LORD is my light and my salvation; whom should I fear?  The LORD is my life’s refuge; of whom should I be afraid?
R. The Lord is my light and my salvation.
One thing I ask of the LORD; this I seek:  To dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, That I may gaze on the loveliness of the LORD and contemplate his temple.
R. The Lord is my light and my salvation.
I believe that I shall see the bounty of the LORD in the land of the living.  Wait for the LORD with courage; be stouthearted, and wait for the LORD.
R. The Lord is my light and my salvation.
Reading 2 – 1 Corinthians 1:10-13, 17

I urge you, brothers and sisters, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree in what you say, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be united in the same mind and in the same purpose.  For it has been reported to me about you, my brothers and sisters, by Chloe’s people, that there are rivalries among you.  I mean that each of you is saying, “I belong to Paul,” or “I belong to Apollos,” or “I belong to Cephas,” or “I belong to Christ.”  Is Christ divided?  Was Paul crucified for you?  Or were you baptized in the name of Paul?  For Christ did not send me to baptize but to preach the gospel, and not with the wisdom of human eloquence, so that the cross of Christ might not be emptied of its meaning.
Gospel – Matthew 4:12-23

When Jesus heard that John had been arrested, he withdrew to Galilee.  He left Nazareth and went to live in Capernaum by the sea, in the region of Zebulun and Naphtali, that what had been said through Isaiah the prophet might be fulfilled:  Land of Zebulun and land of Naphtali, the way to the sea, beyond the Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles, the people who sit in darkness have seen a great light, on those dwelling in a land overshadowed by death a light has arisen.  From that time on, Jesus began to preach and say, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”  As he was walking by the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon who is called Peter, and his brother Andrew, casting a net into the sea; they were fishermen.  He said to them, “Come after me, and I will make you fishers of men.”  At once they left their nets and followed him.  He walked along from there and saw two other brothers, James, the son of Zebedee, and his brother John.  They were in a boat, with their father Zebedee, mending their nets. He called them, and immediately they left their boat and their father and followed him.  He went around all of Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom, and curing every disease and illness among the people.

Have you ever had an identity crisis? Like a full-on, genuine, “Who am I?” and “What is it about me that makes me, me?” I believe that many of us have had this at least once in our lives when we genuinely question who it is that we are and who it is that God has created us to be and what it is that makes us truly unique.

In our second reading today from the first letter to the Corinthians, St. Paul is dealing with this very issue with the Church at Corinth. Paul had heard reports from others that the Church at Corinth had been divided, claiming that “I belong to Paul” or “I belong to Cephas” or “I belong to Apollos” according to who came and brought the message of the Gospel to them. This so divided the Church at Corinth that they had an identity crisis, forgetting who it is that we worship and who we celebrate and who we follow in being Christians. They were creating division among themselves based upon trivial differences which made no difference at all to the status of their salvation. They touted the source of their learning of the Gospel, and not the Word Himself, in whom there is all unity and truth.

But it’s a good thing that this doesn’t happen to us in the modern Church, right? WRONG! How often do we hear quarrels and squabbles amongst the Christian people saying “I belong to Pope Francis,” “I belong to Franklin Graham,” or “I belong to (Archbishop of Canterbury) Justin Welby.” We focus on the silly and paltry divisions and do not look at what it is that makes us all one: we are brothers and sisters in Christ, just as Paul tells the Church at Corinth. We are all Christians, in whom we find our identity. For we do not find our identity as Christians in Francis, Franklin, Justin, or even Michael. We find our identity as Christians in Jesus Christ, the perfect Lamb of God who came to take away the sins of the world and to bring us to the Father.

If you notice, in the Gospel passage, Jesus says to Simon and Andrew, “Come after ME, and I will make you fishers of men.” He does not say “Follow after Pope Francis, and he will make you fishers of men.” He does not say “Follow after Franklin Graham, and he will make you fishers of men.” He does not say “Follow after Justin Welby, and he will make you fishers of men.” NO! He says, simply and clearly, “Come after ME, and I will make you fishers of men.”

In our world, I would recommend that we all take a look at our own identity crisis, for it is in Christ that we find our identity. In our world that turns more uncertain and precarious by the day, let us look to Christ as our identity, as the one who claims us as His own, in whom we live, move, and have our being. It is only then that we will be sure of who we are, and it is only then that we will be able to work together as the Body of Christ to make effective work for the Kingdom of God.

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