Many of you know that I love technology, and I also love learning how we can use technology to help build up the kingdom of God. You may know about the ministry I have called The Prodigal Father, which is using the new media and technology to help people grow in their prayer life.
One of the latest developments in technology is artificial intelligence, which is the notion of using technology to help us synthesize and answer questions.
One of the questions that obviously comes to mind as we are praying with this gospel is this whole question of “Who do you say I am?” I thought it would be interesting to ask this artificial intelligence who do they think Jesus is?
You might not know what artificial intelligence is; but, you might know what Siri is, or what Alexa is, or what Google Assistant is. They are these devices we can ask questions, and they give us an answer. Sometimes the answer is accurate. Sometimes the answer is downright comical.
I decided I would ask each of the assistants, “Who Is Jesus?” The first one that I asked was Siri. I asked Siri, “Who Is Jesus?” Siri directed me towards Wikipedia and said, “Here is what I found in Wikipedia. Jesus, also referred to as Jesus of Nazareth or Jesus Christ, was a Jewish preacher and a religious leader who is the central figure of Christianity. Christians believe him to be the Son of God and the awaited Messiah. Christ prophesied in the Old Testament.”
What I think is interesting about this answer, first of all, is that it comes from Wikipedia. Any students using Wikipedia as a resource realize this is usually not something you want to source for your papers. I also found it to be a little troubling that it only speaks of Jesus as a historical person. “Jesus was a Jewish preacher and a religious leader, the central figure of Christianity.”
At least they acknowledge that he existed and that he was a historical person, but they’re keeping it in the past tense. The reality is that Jesus is a person. Jesus is still present to us. Jesus is still among us in this body of believers. Siri does not really get the right answer.
The next device I decided to ask was Google’s assistant, Google Home. When I asked Google, “Who is Jesus?” the answer was “religion can be complicated, and I’m still learning.” It was kind of a fun answer for Google to give but also couldn’t even give us the answer of who Jesus is. The most troubling of them all was Alexa; however, Alexa has now actually changed its response.
Previously, when you asked Alexa who Jesus was, Alexa actually responded, “Jesus is a fictional character.” What is most insightful for me is that these artificial intelligences are taking the collective response of what it might be to try to give the user a simple response back. It is very troubling that the collective response is either Jesus was a historical person (at least they are admitting that), or Jesus is a fictional character, or it is too complicated and, therefore, we have nothing to say.
I think for Christians, for us Catholics, we have to be able to answer this question just like Jesus asked the disciples, “Who do people say that I am?” They said, “People are saying these different things about you. Some believe you are John the Baptist resurrected from the dead. Others say you are Elijah or one of the prophets.” Then he says to them, “Who do you say that I am?” Peter says, “You are the Christ, the anointed one.”
Peter gets it right. I think it is really powerful for us if we can imagine Jesus asking us the question personally saying, “Who do you say that I am?” and waiting for an answer. He wants to know from you, “Who do you say that I am?” I think that it is also important that we be able to articulate this so if other people ask us the question, “Who is Jesus?” we would actually be able to answer them. We don’t want to just answer them and say, “Jesus is someone that lived 2,000 years ago.” No. Who is Jesus to you? Who is he?
I want to just give you some time to think about that and meditate about that. Really take some time to know how we would respond, how we could respond, and actually how we will respond to Jesus right now as he asks us this most important question. Who do you say that I am? Take some time now to simply meditate on that question. Hopefully, it is a very personal response.
If someone were to ask me who I say that Jesus is, my response would be Jesus is my best friend. He is my most intimate companion. Jesus is the way, he is the truth, and he is the light. Jesus is real. He is the real presence. Jesus is with us here as we celebrate the Eucharist. Jesus is the one that has shown me the father’s love. Jesus is the way that I have come to know that God is love.
It is important that all of us can answer from our hearts and answer realistically the question of who Jesus is. Take some time now and pray with that question. Try to close your eyes and imagine Jesus speaking to you and asking you – you personally. He wants to know from you what you think of him.
Take a moment now and just ponder the question and try to respond to him. Try to answer the question to Jesus when he asks you, “Who do you say that I am?”