Thursday, August 4, 2016


Mt 16.13-23

A little over fourteen years ago I was ordained a deacon. So most people call me deacon now. It’s an easy first name to remember. Sort of like Monsignor for Msgr Hoye or Father for Fr. Healey or Wyndham. In fact a lot of people call me Fr. too. I usually can tell who the visitors are as they leave Mass during the summer. Even at the hospital people call me father when I say I am a Catholic Chaplain. I love being able to respond “Yes, I am a father, but I also am a grandfather”.

So What Is In A Name? It is interesting that people call you different names depending on when you met them. It says a lot about who you are. Most friends call me Greg. My sister calls me Gregory John John. I’m not sure I like that but I also have a couple of names for her so we’re even. I wanted to choose Gregory for my Confirmation name but they wouldn’t let me chose my given name at the time so being a little rebellious I chose my second name for my confirmation name. Thus Gregory John John.

Being in the military for 27 years I acquired several names starting with Lieutenant. Now, even though I’ve been retired for 20 years, most of the people who worked with me still call me Colonel Beckel. One name that I was given was sort of interesting. My call sign was “The Deacon”. That was 20 years before I became an actual deacon.

The many names I’ve acquired say a lot about me. Like son, or dad, or Mr. Beckel from some of my children’s friends who have known me all of their lives and now have children of their own and they still call me Mr. Beckel. My wife often calls me honey or dear. That’s when I’ve been good. Sometimes I feel like I don’t deserve those terms of endearment but I keep trying to live up to them. We all like to know what people think of us and usually we can tell what people think by the names they address us with.

In today’s Gospel, Jesus is sort of wondering the same thing. So he asks his disciple “Who do people say the son of man is”? So far in Jesus’ ministry, he had taught in the temple and astounded the teachers at His understanding of the scriptures. He had performed many miracles, driven out demons, healed the sick, fed 5,000 people with a few loaves and fishes, and taught about the love of God in the many parables he used. In response to John the Baptist’s disciples when they asked “Are you the one” He responded “Go tell John what you hear and see: the blind regain their sight, the lame walk, lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the poor have the good news proclaimed to them”. Jesus was clearly someone sent by God to do His works.

The answer the apostles gave was “Some say John the Baptist, others Elijah, still others Jeremiah or one of the prophets”. It was obvious the people held Jesus in high esteem. Identifying Jesus with Elijah and Jeremiah they were paying him a great tribute and placing him in a high place. Then Jesus asked a more penetrating question, one we all might ponder. He says, “And you, who do you say that I am?” At that question, there may have been a moment of silence where the disciples were almost afraid to answer. How do we answer that question?

I think at that point, Peter came to a great realization. He said, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God”. Peter became the rock, the first person on earth to realize who Jesus was. Literally he was the first member of the Church, the beginning of each and every one of us in the Catholic Church. As a result, we have all become disciples of the Lord. Every time we celebrate the Eucharist, Jesus asks each and every one of us in the consecration. “Who do you say that I am?” My response is “My Lord and My God”. What is yours?

Deacon Greg Beckel

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