Who is Christ to you? | Lifestyle.INQ

OCTOBER 27, 2022

“Are you losing faith in Christ—or are you losing faith in your images of Christ?”


This is a question often posed to people in search of God in their life.


“Who do people say that I am?” This is the question Christ posed to his disciples in today’s Gospel. When no one gave the correct answer, Christ asks the all-important question: “But who do you say that I am?” Then Peter makes his confession of faith, “You are the Christ.”


This is also our confession of faith. These are the questions we face. Are we losing faith in Christ?—“…Who do you say that I am?” Or are we losing faith in our images of Christ—“Who do people say that I am?”


Let me propose to you a reflection on these questions, but viewed from one perspective, the perspective of mission or vocation.


Bearing witness


I had mentioned in a previous article the proposition of Fr. Herbert Alphonso, S.J., that our mission is to live out or to bear witness to, in and with our life, the quality of our relationship with God. As Christ Himself shows in His own life and mission, His was a mission to show in life and more so in death that He is the Beloved Son in whom the Father is well-pleased.


This is also true for us. Our mission is to bear witness to the quality of our relationship with God. Then the question—Who is God to you?—becomes an imperative to face and answer.


This is where our images of God come into play. If we are to accept the proposition of Father Alphonso, then our sense of mission is influenced by our images of God. In our relationships, our image of the other person does affect the way we relate with the person.


With God, for example, if God is the strict and “law-giver” God, then our relationship with Him becomes stiff, if not one out of fear. If God is the dispenser of graces for all our needs, then we approach Him as the benevolent benefactor to whom we turn to and petition for all our needs. If God is Father, loving, understanding and forgiving, then we have a greater sense of freedom in being our self before Him.


Our images of God evolve as we grow and mature. As in other facets of our life and person, the evolution is influenced by expectations and other people’s effect on and/or influence over us. This is part of the process of our being formed as a person.




St. Ignatius of Loyola puts a premium on self-awareness. In recent Jesuit documents (pertaining to education and spirituality), self-awareness is referred to as the realistic knowledge of self. This realistic knowledge of self takes into consideration our blessings and woundedness, our virtues and vices, our talents/gifts and shortcomings, our goodness and sinfulness.


For Ignatius, self-awareness is the beginning of formation, that spiritual journey that leads us to a renewed and reintegrated sense of self. It helps us heal, for those in need of healing (which might be most of us, in varying degrees). It helps us to be whole again, or to be more whole.


To be able to face the question and answer the question—“Who do you say that I am?”—we need to look within; to know our self more, then attain a realistic knowledge of self. It is then and only then that we are able to truly know who Christ is to us. We discover Him in our life and in our person.


Ignatius’ prescribed grace to ask in the Second Week of his Spiritual Exercises is “to see Christ more clearly, to love Christ more dearly, and to follow Christ more nearly.” This is taken from a 13th-century prayer attributed to St. Richard of Chichester.


The realistic knowledge of self leads to a knowledge of God’s presence and love in our life. As we become more aware of who we are, our blessings and shortcomings, we really see Christ more clearly in our life; the gracious love of God and His merciful, forgiving love.


Starting point


To know who we are is to know Christ. This is the starting point of our personal relationship with Christ—to see how He was, is and always will be present in our life; a loving, providential presence.


Who is Christ to you? This will define our life, who we are and why we are living—the meaning and mission of our life.


To paraphrase Christ in this Sunday’s Gospel: Okay, you know and have expressed who Christ is to you as others had told you. Now comes the point in your life that you need to make a personal confession of faith. Who is Christ to you? In a very personal way, who is He to you? What is the quality of your relationship with Christ?


Providential presence


One of the exercises we have in our formation program for public school principals, supervisors and teachers is for them to reflect on the most important blessing that shaped their mission as a teacher.


As I share my own example with them in every session, I would point out to my students the most important blessing that shaped my mission; my mission as a teacher who will love people into excellence.


In discovering this mission in my journey, I have discovered that Christ was, is and will always be a loving, providential presence in my life. This is the quality of my relationship with God, and this is what I try to witness to in my day-to-day life and work.


Hopefully, this will help others discover the quality of their relationship with Christ; how Christ is present in their life. It is a very personal presence unique to each one of us. Yes, it is a loving presence always, for it cannot be any other way. But it is not a generic love. It is always a deeply personal love.


“But who do you say that I am?” Before you answer, I invite you to remember. Remember the story of your life, all things significant in your life. Remember the high and low moments of your life, the joys and the sorrows, the laughter and the tears, the blessings and the woundedness. In remembering, reconnect not just your story, but the story of Christ in your life.


In remembering, may you find the moment in your story when you know in your heart that He is the Christ. He is your Christ. At this moment, make your confession of faith. Say to the Lord how much you love Him. How he is personally your Lord and Savior.