Jesus is….. (Mt 16:13-20)
26th August 2017
In today’s gospel reading we find ourselves with Jesus and his disciples in Caesarea Philippi. He took them for a long journey of about 32 miles to a pagan region at the foot of Mount Hermon to teach them one of his most important lessons.
Jesus, as a good teacher, knew that audio-visuals matter in helping his listeners to grasp his teaching and remember what they learnt. He used as his backdrop to his lesson the scenic place of a rock cave dedicated to worship Pan and other gods. We hear Jesus saying:
‘Who do you say the Son of Man is?’ (Mt 16,13)
The many answers coming from his disciples suggest that they did not seem to have a problem with this question but a subsequent question from their Master left them stunned into silence:
‘But who do you say I am?’ (Mt16,15)
We can imagine that some of them felt disturbed by the personal tone of this question or found themselves needing time to reflect upon their real relationship with Jesus. Some may have been left with a difficulty to choose from a number of meaningful descriptions of their Master. However long it took Simon Peter to answer Jesus, his words came out with a deep inner conviction based on his personal relationship with Jesus and, as we also learn, thanks to the grace given by the Heavenly Father:
‘You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.’ (Mt 16,16)
This strong statement is in itself like a rock of faith for Simon Peter. He firmly holds onto it, as he knows that Jesus Christ is all in his life and for that ‘all’ he left everything behind. This moment is a crucial point for Simon Peter’s discipleship because of the realisation of how important Jesus was for him. Likewise Jesus replies by indicating the importance given to Peter himself, calling him by a new name and entrusting him with a personal vocation. From there onwards he is called Peter (Cephas – rock) with the specific understanding of the Rock that Jesus himself is.
St Jerome expands this point further by saying that “Christ is not alone in being the Rock, for he granted to the Apostle Peter that he should be called ‘Rock’. ” (Comm. on Jeremiah 3:65). Christ is not alone as he shares this particular quality of his with his disciple. Both reveal to the world the idea of God being the Rock. Here we taste something of the mystery of being called by name and its consequence for a vocational response – a personal vocation.
What would you say if you heard Jesus ask the very same question ‘ Who do you say I am?’ Who is Jesus for you in this intimate relationship you have with him? Is he the Rock,? The I Am who I Am? The Child Jesus,? Emmanuel? The Prince of Peace? The Faithful Companion? Waiting for the response aided by the grace of Our Heavenly Father, you will learn who Jesus is for you and who you are for him. Then you just follow your vocation to be to others this particular face of God as such as the Rock, the I Am who I Am, the Child Jesus.
Do not be afraid. The answer is in you. Jesus is….