Treat me like an adult, damnit!

– A reflection by Ricardo da Silva SJ.

Have you ever said this to someone? I know I certainly have—on more than one occasion! I have also heard it spoken countless times from the mouths of fellow young adults. We seem to come to a stage in our lives where we demand to be identified as adults. This is a reasonable expectation—but just what does it mean for us to be identified as such?

Although the request to be treated like an adult is an understandable one, it also seems contradictory to the very aim we announce. We figure that being an adult is synonymous with freedom being able to do as we please, set our own curfew and decide on what is morally acceptable, or not, for ourselves. Yet, we scream out in a loud and often childish voice, ‘treat me like an adult, damnit!’ Surely, if we are adults, we should be content with our decisions and not worry about what is said against us—we are, after all, adults! Nonetheless, we do care about how we are perceived and so we thus demand recognised “adult” status.


Could this give us a clue as to what Jesus might be doing in the Gospel given to us today? He asks his disciples “Who do you say that I am?” They respond but he, not content with their answer, asks again.

They reply, “You are the Christ”. Immediately, Jesus acknowledges that they have correctly identified him and orders them to keep his identity hidden from others.

We can learn from this. Jesus, recognises himself as the Christ but doesn’t announce it aloud; he keeps his identity hidden. This is not because he does not want to be recognised as the Christ, or to avoid being who he in fact is. Instead, he is teaching his disciples that he cannot run away from who he is whether his identity is publicly announced or not and, who he is will be revealed more in his actions: by suffering and dying on the cross than by a public proclamation. The challenge for us is that we are similarly ordered: ‘If anyone wants to be a follower of mine, let him renounce himself and take up his cross and follow me.’ We have to let go of who we want to announce ourselves to be and instead hear the challenging words of
Jesus calling us to be his followers; proclaiming the Good News of God more in our actions than simply in our words.