One thing that sets Christianity apart from other religions is that its main focus is not “What?” but “Who?” Christianity is not just about a set of teachings; it is, first and foremost, about a person, Jesus Christ. When Jesus came to earth, his primary assignment was not to dump a set of teachings on his followers but to transform them. His interest was not just in what his followers would know but who they would become.

In this Liturgical Year B, our Sunday Gospel readings have mostly been from the Gospel according to Mark. The question of “Who is Jesus?” runs through the Gospel according to Mark. This Gospel begins this way: “The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ the Son of God” (Mark 1:1). Here, Mark introduces Jesus Christ to his audience as “the Son of God.” In the rest of the Gospel according to Mark, Jesus’ actions make the people wonder: “Who is this …?” In Mark 1:27, after he delivered a demoniac, the people wondered what kind of person Jesus was that even unclean spirits obeyed him. In Mark 6, the people wondered who he was after hearing Jesus teach with great wisdom in the Synagogue. They began to ask themselves if he was not the son of Mary and Joseph that they knew. His teaching revealed that there was more to him. Some others could not handle his identity as the Son of God. In Mark 2, after Jesus forgave the sins of the paralytic and healed him, the scribes took offense and accused Jesus of blasphemy. They knew that what Jesus did for the Paralytic pointed to Jesus’ divine identity, and the scribes could not handle it. Eventually, they crucified Jesus because he presented himself as the Son of God. Jesus breathed his last on the Cross, in Mark 15:39. “When the centurion who stood facing him saw how he breathed his last he said, ‘Truly this man was the Son of God!’”

We can summarize the Gospel according to Mark in this way: Mark introduced Jesus as the Son of God. Jesus then began to do things and teach in a way that made people wonder, “Who is this?” The religious leaders understood from his actions and teachings that he claimed to be the Son of God. They then killed him on the Cross because he claimed to be the Son of God. And after seeing how he died on the cross, one of those who crucified him believed and confessed that Jesus was truly the Son of God.

Today’s Gospel passage is one of those passages where Jesus does what makes people wonder about his identity. After a long day’s work, he was in the boat with his apostles. Because he was humble and became a human being, he was tired and sleepy, so he fell asleep. But his sleep was interrupted by the apostles, who woke him up because they felt he was not concerned about the storm. He woke up and said to the wind, “Quiet! Be still,” and so it was. Seeing what happened, his apostles wondered, “Who then is this whom even wind and sea obey?” Calming the storm pointed to his divinity. Just like there was chaos over the earth in the beginning of creation (cf. Genesis 1:1) and God brought order by speaking, now Jesus, who came to recreate speaks order into the storm, and so it was.

Yes, ⁠Christianity is not primarily about a set of teachings but about a person, Jesus Christ, the Son of God. He came not mainly to teach us but to transform us into who we are supposed to be: Children of God. Just like the actions and teachings of Jesus made people ask, “Who is this?” our way of life as Christians should make the world ask, “Who are these Christians? Their presence brings calm amid chaos; they repay hate with love; they bring light in darkness. Who are they?” Remember, that was how we got the name Christians. People observed the way of life of the early disciples, and they saw something Christ-like about them, so they decided to call them “Christians,” which means “Followers of Christ.” My dearly beloved in Christ, the world will not wonder about our identity if we compete with the world. ⁠If we panic like the world, the world will not wonder about our identity. But if, like Jesus, we speak calm into stormy situations, the world would ask, “Who are these people? Even wind and storm obey them.” Jesus is the Son of God. They arrested him because he said he was the Son of God. The centurion found enough evidence at his death to say, “This truly was the Son of God.” My dear Christian, if you are taken to court today for claiming to be a child of God, will there be enough evidence to convict you?

Rev. Fr. Emmanuel Ochigbo

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