THAT question Christ asked his disciples about who did people say he, as the Son of Man, was should also be addressed to each one of us. And we should just try our best to give the right answer like what St. Peter did. (cfr. Mt 16,13-20)
And the simple reason is because knowing correctly who Christ is would lead us to know ourselves properly, since Christ is the pattern of our humanity and the savior of our humanity that is damaged by sin.
Let us always remember that Christ, being the Son of God, is the perfect image and likeness of God himself. And since we have been created in God’s image and likeness, we can truly say that we are meant to be like Christ to achieve what God wants us to be—his image and likeness, his adopted children, meant to share in his divine life and nature.
We have to be wary of our tendency to attain our self-knowledge based only on what we see and feel, on how certain worldly ideologies define us, or worse, on certain passing trends and fashions that can be prevailing at a given period of time and place.
We truly need to know Christ to know ourselves properly, and we have to do everything to attain that knowledge by every means possible—by reading and meditating on the life of Christ as recorded in the gospels, by living the clearly Christian charisms and spiritualities now available in the Church, by imitating the lives of saints who have been faithful to Christ all the way to the end, etc.
Again, Christ as the Son of God is the pattern of our humanity. If we want to know who we really are, how we ought to be, all we have to do is to look at Christ and try our best, with God’s grace, to identify ourselves with him.
More than that, because of our sin that defaced the original state in which we, in Adam and Eve, were created, Christ is the Son of God who became man to save us. The immediate conclusion we can derive from this truth of our faith is that for us to know how to handle our sinfulness, again all we have to do is to look at Christ and try our best, with God’s grace, to identify ourselves with him. He offers us the “the way, the truth and the life.”
That identification with Christ as our Redeemer cannot but involve the acceptance of the cross through which our salvation is achieved. We have to know therefore the full meaning of the cross in our life, and embrace and die on it the way Christ embraced and died on it.
This is what is meant to be ‘alter Christus,’ an ideal that can be reached because insofar as God is concerned, everything is already given for us to be able to be so. Things now just depend on us on whether we would like to be ‘alter Christus’ or not.
All the means are made available. We have the sources of divine revelation that show us the truth about ourselves. We have the word of God. We have the Church and the sacraments, especially the Holy Eucharist.
We just have to make the necessary adjustments in the way we think, in the way we identify ourselves. It would not be presumptuous, even given our limitations and woundedness, to start and keep thinking that “I am another Christ, ‘alter Christus.’” We just have to try our best, with God’s grace to think and act like Christ!