A reflection for the twenty-first Sunday in Ordinary Time

Sister Maria Ukamaka Okeke, I.H.M. reflects on the readings for August 27, 2023.

Readings (Year A):

Isaiah 22:19 – 23
Psalms 138:1 – 2, 2 – 3, 6, 8
Romans 11:33 – 36
Matthew 16:13 – 20

Reflection: Who do I say that Christ is in my life?

In the Gospel of Matthew, we encounter a profound moment where Jesus asks his disciples a critical question: “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?” (Matthew 16:13). The disciples share various opinions circulating among the people: “Some say John the Baptist, others Elijah, still others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.” However, Jesus then poses a more intimate question to his closest followers, the one that resonates deeply with each one of us today: “But who do you say that I am?” (Matthew 16:15).

In this simple yet profound inquiry, we find an invitation to reflect on our own personal relationship with Christ. Who is Jesus to us? How does he feature in our lives, in our joys, struggles, and everyday experiences?

Let me share a story from my own life. There was a time when I felt adrift, like a ship lost at sea. I was burdened with worries and questions about my purpose in life. At this pivotal moment, I encountered the person of Jesus through the scriptures, in prayer, and in the loving presence of fellow believers. Jesus became my anchor, offering stability amid life’s storms. As I delved deeper into scripture, I discovered the compassionate healer, the teacher of wisdom, and the humble servant who washed the feet of his disciples. In prayer, I encountered the listening friend who understood my heart’s longings and fears. In the company of fellow believers, I experienced the unity of the body of Christ, bound by love and common purpose.


In this process of encountering Jesus, I recognized that my relationship with Him was not confined to a singular role or title. He was not merely a distant deity but a living, breathing presence in my life. Jesus was the one who walked with me through trials, celebrated my joys, and taught me the meaning of true love and selflessness.

This reflection led me to respond to Jesus’ question with a heartfelt confession: “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God” (Matthew 16:16). Through this encounter with Christ, I understood that my identity is deeply intertwined with his. As a beloved child of God, I am called to live in union with Christ, reflecting his love and mercy to the world.

Each one of us has a unique story of encountering Jesus in our lives. For some, it may be through the witness of a loving family member or a compassionate friend. For others, it may come through the beauty of nature, a moment of profound stillness, or a powerful moment of prayer.

Our journey with Christ is not linear; it is a tapestry of experiences, challenges, and graces woven together. As we grapple with life’s complexities and uncertainties, we find comfort in knowing that Jesus walks with us every step of the way. In our diverse encounters with Christ, we discover different facets of his personality and teachings. He is the healer who mends our brokenness, the teacher who imparts wisdom, the savior who redeems us, and the friend who never abandons us.

As a religious educator, I often witness how the encounter with Christ transforms lives. Through the sacraments, the word, and the community of believers, individuals encounter the living God and find solace, purpose, and belonging.

As we reflect on this gospel passage, let us take a moment to ponder our response to Jesus’ question. Who is Christ in our lives? How has he made a difference in our journeys? May we embrace this ongoing encounter with Jesus, allowing his love to shape and guide us as we strive to be his faithful disciples, witnessing his love to the world.

About the author

Sister Maria Ukamaka Okeke, I.H.M.

Maria Ukamaka Okeke, I.H.M. is a member of the congregation of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, Mother of Christ. She is pursuing a Ph.D. in Catholic Educational Leadership at DePaul University. Sister Maria is committed to holistic education, inspiring policymakers, educators, and learners to create a harmonious world through transformative education.

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