This is one of my favorite gospel stories. The part I wish to reflect on though is Jesus’ question to the disciples, “Who do you say that I am?”. Peter speaks up and replies, “You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God”. He confesses that Jesus is truly the Son of God. Jesus is the “Christ”, which means anointed one. Jesus is the One sent by God to save and shepherd His people. Because of Peter’s response of faith, our Lord entrusts him with the special responsibility of being the First Pope. Peter will be the chief patriarch of the new covenant and the rock upon which Christ will build His Church. Jesus gives Him the “keys to the kingdom of heaven”. This expression symbolizes Peter/Pope’s teaching authority to guide the church in faith and morals.
Like Peter, God asks us the same question, “Who do you say that I am? Who is Jesus for you?” Unfortunately, the Pope or anyone else for that matter can answer the question for us. Each of us must respond to the Lord from our own heart and lips. Above all, we show our answer by the way we live our lives. I sometimes start my Pre-Baptismal Instructions with this gospel story. I share that it is frustrating to meet parents or families who want to have their child baptized, yet we will not see return next Sunday or anytime in the near future. If this is this case, then we can only ask, “then who is Jesus for us?” Is Jesus just someone I turn to when I need something? Is Jesus just someone I need for special occasions? Is He not that important? Is Jesus just a small part of my life?
St. Peter’s story is our story as well. If we confess that Jesus is truly God, then I must make an effort to follow Him and live the way He lived. I must renounce sin, let go of my pride, and be faithful to the gospel. I must make sure that Jesus dominates my whole life and His teachings influence my thoughts, words, and choices. “What do you say?”