My brothers and sisters in Christ,1
Today’s passage of the Gospel, is kind of a “turning point” for the disciples. So, let’s try to enter more deeply into this scene of the Gospel that we have just heard.
The apostles are following Jesus — they have been witnesses of miracles, the healing of different people, the feeding of thousands. But also they have witnessed people like the Pharisees and Sadducees challenging Jesus, asking him for a sign from Heaven.
And today, Jesus asks his disciples to make a decision about him. And yes, he is asking us to renew, to make our decision about him.
I was reflecting on how it is interesting how Jesus goes about things. First, he asks the apostles — what are the people in the crowds saying about him. And so they tell him. Some people think he is Elijah or one of the other prophets, some people think they think that he might be St. John the Baptist who’s coming back from the dead.
So, after he listens to those answers, then Jesus asks them, personally: “But who do you say that I am?”
Now, my dear brothers and sisters, this is the most important question. It’s the only question, really, that matters in a person’s life. Because the most important thing in life is to know God.
And it is always important, I’ve been thinking that especially at this challenging time that we are living in — the most important thing for each one of us is to increase our faith. To go deeper in our personal knowledge, our personal relationship with Jesus Christ.
And as we know, we do that through our prayer, through the Eucharist, through our daily contact with the word of God.
And we find Jesus always in his Church. Being Catholic is not about being a “lone ranger,” following Jesus on our own. God wants us to belong to his family. He wants us to gather, to pray together, to worship, to give glory to God.
It’s important because our knowledge of God is not like our knowledge of history or science. Knowing God is not having some information or facts about him. That’s not enough.
St. Paul tells us today in the second reading today: “Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! … How unsearchable his ways.”
So our knowledge of God must come from the heart. This knowledge must come from a personal relationship that changes everything about how we see ourselves, how we see other people. How we live.
That’s why it’s not enough just to know “about” Jesus. We need to know him — directly, personally, intimately.
So today, he’s asking us in a special way, to renew our relationship with him. He is asking us again, just as he asks his disciples in every age: “Who do you say that I am.”
That’s a question for me. And that’s a question for you. And yes, we need to give our answer to the One who is asking, the One who is standing in our midst, just as he stood before his apostles.
St. Peter responds to this question with that beautiful confession: “You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God.”
Obviously that’s not something that St. Peter knew based on the “evidence,” or the available information, or by looking at Jesus from the outside. True knowledge of God comes from the gift of faith.
That’s why Jesus says to him today: “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah. For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my heavenly Father.”
So my brothers and sisters, faith is the key. And faith is gift from God.
And obviously that becomes a reality, especially when we come together as a Church.
As Jesus promised, in the Gospel of today’s Mass: “Upon this rock I will build my Church, and the gates of the netherworld shall not prevail against it.”
It is a promise from God! And we should cling to this promise, cling to the rock of his Church in these times when everything seems so uncertain.
So my dear brothers and sisters, let us thank God today for the gift of faith. This gift that opens our hearts to know that Jesus is the son of the living God. This gift that makes us children of God, members of God’s family.
And let us keep walking together, following Jesus in his Church. Let us ask him to increase our faith!
And let us go to our Blessed Mother Mary, who is Mother of the Church and the mother of each one of us. Let us ask our mother to intercede and bring us the courage to respond to the call of her Son in these uncertain times.
Saying to Jesus as St. Peter did: “You are the Christ! The Son of the Living God!”
1. Readings: Isa. 22:19-23; Rom. 11:33-36; Matt. 16:13-20.