Today’s Gospel: Matthew 16:13-19
Solemnity of Saints Peter and Paul, Apostles
I recently heard a short reflection from Matthew Kelly on the words of Jesus in today’s Gospel, first on “Who do others say that I am?” and then “Who do you say that I am?” There is a very distinct difference in these two questions, and Kelly goes on to imagine what some people’s responses would be to the first question: Well, Jesus, most people think you were just a really nice guy, maybe even a prophet, that you did some great things while you were on the earth, but that’s about it. That’s the truth, isn’t it? Though 85% of Americans claim to believe in God, one would assume the contrary by observing how we live and what laws we support. This is an underlying assumption based on the answer to the second question, a question to which we all must individually and personally respond, as Peter did that day: “Who do you say that I am?”
It’s very easy to claim that Jesus is our Lord and Savior, to speak of the Crucifixion as if it were a mere historical event, and to even cognitively accept that it did, indeed, occur, but it is quite another to fully embrace the person of Christ in all that we think, say, and do. The two are not mutually exclusive, but one presupposes a response to the other. We must first ask who others believe Jesus is, but more importantly, we must ask ourselves who we believe Jesus is – not just as a mere prophet or good person, not just one who walked the earth long ago but who has long been dead and gone, but as a person who is real and alive today.
This requires a personal encounter with Jesus, every day, in our hearts, in the silent thoughts we acknowledge, in a surrender of control, in an act of trust in His Divine Providence. All of these ways we behave and live and breathe contribute to the truth that we not only accept that Jesus is God, but also that we attest to the fact that He still remains very much alive and present with us, in His Word, in Sacrament, and in the Body of Christ through the Church.
Encountering Jesus within my heart means that I meet Him, that I accept His outstretched Hand that beckons me to walk with Him, to journey with Him so that I can get to know His Heart more intimately; in this, I will necessarily be transformed not only into one who loves, but into Love Himself. This is the epitome of any love-relationship: to desire to know the other more and more deeply, to become more like the beloved, and to trust in the heart of the one who loves us.
Let us be transformed today by Jesus as Love Incarnate, the One who created us and remains with us more deeply and innately than we can comprehend. Let us answer the question, “Who do you say that I am,” along with Ss. Peter and Paul, by the way in which we choose to live our lives, as witnesses of the Truth, as people of faith. Let us come alive with Jesus working in and through us just as these two heroic saints modeled for us.
Do I live as the world lives, claiming that Jesus was just a nice guy or a great prophet, or do I allow Him to transform me through His Personhood, real and alive in His Word and Sacrament? Who do I say Jesus is to me? How can I approach Jesus today, asking Him to more intimately transform my heart into His Heart?
Ss. Peter and Paul, you were human like me; you denied Jesus, mocked and chided Him, derided Him. But you also encountered Him, and afterwards you were transformed entirely. I long for this deep transformation in my life, too. I want to know Jesus and to journey with Him in every facet of my life. Pray for me that, like you, I may choose to be alive in and through the Person of Jesus who is real and alive, yesterday, today and forever. Amen.
We thank our friends at The Word Among Us for providing our gospel reflection team with copies of Abide In My Word 2015: Mass Readings at Your Fingertips. To pray the daily gospels with this wonderful resource, visit The Word Among Us.
Copyright 2015 Jeannie Ewing