In this Sunday’s gospel passage Jesus takes his disciples to the place called Caesarea Philippi. The tradition says that the whole scene was situated by the rock where there used to be a pagan cult of Pan. The place had very symbolic meaning, so exactly at that very spot Jesus challenged the apostles, as He challenges each one of us, whether they wanted to believe in One God and follow Christ or turn away from the true God and follow false idols. Thus, Jesus asked the apostles two simple but extremely important questions about his identity and mission: “Who do people say that I am?” And then He addressed directly the apostles, “Who do you say that I am?”
First, our Lord wanted to find out whether the disciples relied on other people’s opinion or not. Secondly, He asked them directly if they believe in His words and mission. The first question could be compared to what we know today as surveys or popular polls. Let’s paraphrase it: What’s the percentage of people who claim that I am... the promised messiah? In the beginning, Jesus seems to evaluate the apostles’ hearts, but then He also makes them think and make decision. His question directed to the apostles strikes in the heart of each of them. So Simon Peter Inspired by the Holy Spirit quickly answers: “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” The apostle accurately identifies Jesus as the promised Messiah and the Son of the Almighty. In return, Jesus praises Peter and acknowledges the fact that Peter was guided by the Holy Spirit in revelation of Jesus’ identity.
Our Lord invites all of us to ponder on the same question: Who is Jesus for me? Is he another prophet? Is he a superb religious leader among many others? Is he a philosopher, whom I like but maybe not follow? Is he really my savior?
C.S. Lewis in his book Mere Christianity made very thought-provoking comments about Jesus, which is worth sharing with you:
“I am trying here to prevent anyone saying the really foolish thing that people often say about Him [that is, Christ]: ‘I’m ready to accept Jesus as a great moral teacher, but I don’t accept His claim to be God.’That is the one thing we must not say. A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic–on a level with the man who says he is a poached egg–or else he would be the Devil of Hell. You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the Son of God: or else a madman or something worse... .You can shut Him up for a fool, you can spit at Him and kill Him as a demon; or you can fall at His feet and call Him Lord and God. But let us not come up with any patronizing nonsense about His being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to.”
I pray that, while meditating upon this scripture passage, each one of you will discover Jesus as the way, the truth, and the life.
Have a blessed week.
Fr. Janusz Mocarski, Administrator