August, 2011. (Retrieved this item from my little bucket of rough drafts.) This morning our priest prayed with us (the choir and acolytes and etc) that we would be able to distinguish between “correct” and “true”. I bristled instantly–I like “correct”, thank you very much. Later in the sermon I understood more about the distinction he was making. Correct makes the head happy. At least it does for me, I love to be right about something, anything. True is deeper, and at least for me, I’m a little slower to weigh in on “true”. I don’t think that’s a bad thing. But true winds up taking some commitment. If something is true, you need to stand up for it. True changes the way we set our priorities. The gospel reading today was (in part) this one:
Now when Jesus came into the district of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?” And they said, “Some say John the Baptist, but others Elijah, and still others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.” He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?”
Father Matt pointed out that Caesarea Phillipi was a name like “Caesarville” — named to honor the Caesar–who in Roman culture was supposed to be venerated as a divine figure. Was it politically dangerous or subversive for Jesus to start talking about his identity there?
But while he shared that interesting detail he also shoved it aside. Details like that were interesting but could also be used to keep our interaction with the story at the intellectual level. First century history is very interesting, and the more I learn about it, the more framework there is for the biblical narratives. I can feel my mind go down that trail–which is not a bad thing–except when it’s an exercise to avoid something else.
The disciples gave the requested information, that is to say, what people were saying about Jesus, and then there came the “who do YOU say I am?” question. And Fr. Matt talked about a time when he had to commit to that discussion. He gently pointed out that we might have to commit to that as well.