Who Am I?
Jesus 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.” Jesus said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” – Matthew 16: 13-15 (NRSV)
Jesus’ first question isn’t hard. If you’re paying attention to the Gospels, the creeds, the culture, and your neighbors, you know what people are saying.
His next question is harder, because now he wants to uncover you. What do you say? You have to go deeper for that answer.
He’s also asking you to say it aloud, in public. Once you do, there’ll be consequences. Consequences you’ll have to live with.
A lot of queer people of my generation never came out to our parents, or we delayed it for a really long time. They already knew, of course. Most of them, anyway. And they’d found a way to accept us – silence. As long as nobody talked about it, they were okay.
But if it got said aloud, they knew they’d have to do something about it – either question their convictions and recalibrate their values, or reject their children and inflict a wound that might never heal.
For many families, both choices were untenable. So we all colluded. No one said a word. The consequences of that silence were often warping.
The truth, Jesus says elsewhere, will make you free. Confessed aloud, it’ll also make you choose – how you’ll live, how you’ll love, how you’ll judge, and whether you’ll change.
The choice is really hard, and no one should ever be shamed or coerced into making it. Yet the payoff of speaking our truth is a chance at authenticity. For everyone.
For all who’re colluding, pretending not to notice, keeping secrets, I pray. Jesus, have mercy on their pain. And in your good time, and theirs, free everyone for the open lives everyone deserves to live.
Mary Luti is a long time seminary educator and pastor, author of Teresa of Avila’s Way and numerous articles, and founding member of The Daughters of Abraham, a national network of interfaith women’s book groups.