Today’s homily is preached by Fr. Tony Bidgood, C.Ss.R. the associate pastor of St. Mary’s Catholic Church in Saskatoon, SK, Canada.
In the Gospel, Jesus asks his disciples, ‘Who do you say I am?’
It is a deeply personal question! Peter gets the answer right when he says, ‘You are the Messiah’. But he doesn’t understand the implications of that answer.
For Peter, the Messiah is a conquering hero, an over thrower of the occupying Roman government and its army. That is not who Jesus is. It is a crisis of faith for Peter – where his long held religious belief in Messiah-ship is challenged by the one who actually is the Messiah, albeit a very different one than Peter was expecting.
Peter’s confusion and agitation is understandable. Anyone who takes their faith seriously will encounter a moment (or moments) when their beliefs are shaken and their world turned upside down. In the letter to St. James, there is a link made to one’s faith and one’s works. When we are active in the world, life (let’s call it our works or our lived activity) brings situations that challenge our faith. I often think of those whose relationships end in separation and divorce; or those who become sick; or those who live with the aftermath of abortion; or those who suffer betrayal. These and many other life situations challenge us, and our faith.
In every challenging situation, Jesus’ question comes back to us: “Who do you say I am?” In other words, we may ask, “Where are you God?” or the more famous question, “Why, God?” These and other similar questions are all asking the same thing … who is Jesus?
This is not to reduce Jesus to some relativistic meaning. The truth of Jesus as Son of God and our Saviour endures. But, like any relationship that changes over time, our relationship with Jesus also changes. For many people, it is only in their own times of suffering, that they come to know Jesus in his suffering.
The question, “Who do you say that I am?” is not a question that should shake us to the point of despair. Rather, it is a question that invites us to meet Jesus again, in a new way, and grow deeper into relationship with him. Let us pray that like Peter, we will be open to discovering Jesus anew.