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Who do you say that I am?

A Lent Reflection for Saturday, February 24 by Mary Rodriguez

Lectionary reading for 2/24/2024 Psalm 22:23-31; Genesis 16:7-15; Mark 8:27-30

Selected passage for reflection: Genesis 16:7-15 & Mark 8:27-30


Genesis 16:7-15 NRSV

7 The angel of the Lord found her by a spring of water in the wilderness, the spring on the way to Shur. 8 And he said, “Hagar, slave-girl of Sarai, where have you come from and where are you going?” She said, “I am running away from my mistress Sarai.” 9 The angel of the Lord said to her, “Return to your mistress, and submit to her.” 10 The angel of the Lord also said to her, “I will so greatly multiply your offspring that they cannot be counted for multitude.” 11 And the angel of the Lord said to her,

“Now you have conceived and shall bear a son; 

you shall call him Ishmael, (God hears)

for the Lord has given heed to your affliction.

12 He shall be a wild ass of a man,

with his hand against everyone,

and everyone’s hand against him;

and he shall live at odds with all his kin.”

13 So she named the Lord who spoke to her, “You are El-roi” (God of seeing or God who sees); for she said, “Have I really seen God and remained alive after seeing him?” 14 Therefore the well was called Beer-lahai-roi; (Well of the Living One who sees me) it lies between Kadesh and Bered.

15 Hagar bore Abram a son; and Abram named his son, whom Hagar bore, Ishmael.

Mark 8:27-30 NRSV

27 Jesus went on with his disciples to the villages of Caesarea Philippi; and on the way he asked his disciples, “Who do people say that I am?” 28 And they answered him, “John the Baptist; and others, Elijah; and still others, one of the prophets.” 29 He asked them, “But who do you say that I am?” Peter answered him, “You are the Messiah.” 30 And he sternly ordered them not to tell anyone about him.



I remember when I learned that in Hebrew, the name Mary (derivative of Miriam) means “bitter waters.” I am not going to pretend that it didn’t make me feel a little bitter, until I also learned the Egyptian root word means “love or beloved.” I thought to myself, Okay, I can work with that. I thought maybe I could be one who brings love to those experiencing bitter difficulties.

The Bible has a lot of names for God. El-Shaddai (God Almighty), Elohim (Creator), Jehovah-Jireh (The Lord our Provider), the Alpha and Omega (beginning and end), Immanuel (God with us), Yahweh (I AM), God of Justice, God of Mercy and Lovingkindness, Abba (father/caregiver), Wonderful Counselor, Jesus (The Lord Saves), etc.

Hagar names her son “God hears,” and she responds by calling God: the “God who sees,” for she felt her cries were heard and she felt seen by God.  

Jesus is the closest iteration we have of what God is like, understandable in our own terms as humans. Jesus called himself: the Son of Man, the Good Shepherd, the Bread of Life, the Light of the World, etc. The words we choose matter. What we call others matters. It affects not only how we view each other, but ourselves. What we call God affects how we act and interact. May we choose to use language that helps center us to love our neighbors as ourselves, to fill the hungry with good things, to loose the chains of injustice and set the oppressed free, to love our enemies and lift them up in prayer, and to show loving kindness to all. For we are all kin.


What do you call God? Who do you say Jesus is? Maybe try to expand your vision today, and consider what someone who is in need might call God. Or consider what your neighbor, or the person you pass along your walk today, might call out to Jesus for. See if it changes how you respond to God and how you respond to them.


God of many names, center us, today, in your love. Our Good Shepherd, draw us close to you and to one another, that we may recognize that we are all cared for by you. Spirit, guide us to see and treat each other with the goodness and kindness that makes everything safer and more whole for every last one. Embolden us to pray and to serve, to observe and to act in ways that effect change, to remember and to respond. 


About the Author

Mary Rodriguez has been a case manager in Chicago for the past 14 years, working with individuals with mental illness, seniors, individuals in permanent supportive affordable housing, and for those in need of healthcare advocacy. She enjoys helping people navigate public systems, while ensuring their dignity and humanity is kept forefront.

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