“Who do you say that I am?”

Jesus’ question to His disciples in today’s Gospel may not seem especially relevant to the duty of Catholics and every other eligible citizen to vote this week according to their conscience in this monumentally important referendum. But it is a relevant question because it should bring us within ourselves to a place of seriousness, beneath and beyond either strategic self-interest or emotional reactiveness. Our voting will partly determine the future not only for ourselves but for our succeeding generations, and so we should have in mind, as the Bishops have advised us, the common good for the UK, for Europe and for the world. Within that context, and having attended last Wednesday a very respectful Catholic debate at the cathedral on the subject, it seems to me perfectly feasible to vote either way, but we should at least have searched our consciences before we vote to ensure that our motivation is consistent with our being disciples of Jesus. Searching our consciences also needs to happen more broadly before we answer the question He asks of us as His disciples: “But you,” He said, “who do you say that I am?” In fact each of us answers this everyday by the conduct of our lives. Our thoughts, words, deeds and omissions all reveal who we actually think Jesus is, even if this is an uncomfortable reflection for us as we realise that we may not be as close to Him as we would have hoped. Far from this encouraging us to avoid answering His earnest question to us, however, postponing it in the febrile activity of our busy though numbered days, we should ensure, the sooner the better, that we are ready to answer the question definitively because it will certainly be definitively asked of us by Jesus Himself when in our dying we meet Him face to face and when His judgement of us is forever.               Fr Michael