When Jesus went into the region of Caesarea Philippi he asked his disciples, “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?” They replied, “Some say John the Baptist, others Elijah, still others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.” He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” Simon Peter said in reply, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God. “Jesus said to him in reply, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah. For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my heavenly Father. And so I say to you, you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church, and the gates of the netherworld shall not prevail against it. I will give you the keys to the kingdom of heaven. Whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven; and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.”( Matthew 16:13-19)
We all have “step back” moments. That’s when we stop and reflect on our lives. We ask or review many different areas. Where am I? What am I doing? Where am I heading?
In a similar way, Jesus begins asking the disciples step-back questions. He asks: “What are people saying about me?”
How easy it would have been to stop there. Jesus was trending and going viral and lighting up social media in his first-century world. It all looked so positive. What more could he have wanted?
Yet, Jesus wasn’t taking a poll. Jesus was trying to take the disciples to a deeper place. And that’s why he turned to them and asked a more penetrating question. He said: “But who do you say that I am?
That is also a question that biblical scholars and theologians reflect on. Thomas Merton said that Jesus was a like a great magnifying glass, and through him the light of God came to the world in a concentrated and beautiful way; and when we place our dry and brittle lives under that light, the spirit of each person comes ablaze with newness
I like that as both a reflection and direction. The Italian writer, Ignazio Silone described it another way: “If we treat one another, in the same way that Jesus treated people, it will be as if Jesus never left this world.” I think it is so true.
As followers of Christ, we receive that energy and we are expected to share it. For two reasons.
First, we are all broken by the challenges of life. We’re lonely. Or we’re insecure. Or we’re anxious. We’re hurt or we’re angry or we’re bitter. Yet, to believe in the great bursting energy of Christ is to believe that love is at the heart of life. And so is grace. And so is forgiveness. And so is kindness. And we are all desperate for it. Every one of us.
To share that energy means that we need to ways that are right for us to release Christ into the universe. Every time we treat another person with dignity and respect and every time, we bring a little compassion to another human being, especially a human being that is hurting and broken, and every time we offer love as a way of life, we bring Christ to others.
Here is the second reason. The invitation that Jesus holds before us is the possibility that we too as human beings can be the temples of God’s presence, the vehicles of God’s action. We can enter into the realm of God in the world. We can become the body of Christ. If we affirm God in Jesus, we are opening to the possibility of God in ourselves.
That’s incarnation. We are only human; we do not feel worthy or able, but by some miracle of grace, it is the human that God uses. God whispers in our ear, “don’t quit, keep on playing,” and as we continue, we are lovingly enfolded, graciously inspired, and from our feeble efforts something wonderful can emerge.
Jesus comes to us across the years, yet still vividly, powerfully, beautifully, and the question remains, “Who do you say that I am?” If we affirm Him as one in whom God is present and active, we are not only saying something about Jesus. We are opening ourselves to a possibility. We are standing at the threshold of the most exciting adventure of our life!
Prayer of The Day
“Lord Jesus, I believe that you are the Christ, the Son of the living God. Make my faith strong like the Apostles Peter and Paul and give me boldness to speak of you to others that they may come to know you as Lord and Savior.”
Our fractured world needs to be filled more with His love and His peace. You and I are instruments of that. We exhibit it by sharing His gift of love, by removing the rancor from our lives and from around us, by letting others know that we are brother and sister to them.
In the words of St. Francis of Assisi: “Preach the Gospel at all times. Use words if necessary.”