Dear Believers in the Christ,
Who is Jesus for you? What is your relationship with him and how would you define him? Our faith invites us into a relationship and not just doctrine. We need to know Jesus, not just know about him. This is an important distinction.
The gospel today, Matthew 16:13-20, reveals this question from the mouth of Jesus. He asks one of the most important questions of his life on earth, “Who do you say that I am?” In this text, Peter understands who Jesus truly is, responding “You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God.” This is the beginning of a new relationship between Jesus and Peter. Peter then receives the keys to the Kingdom of God. Peter is called upon to lead, to put his life on the line as Jesus did.
We cannot be Catholics in name only. We can certainly memorize texts; learn about issues in the Catechism, but the grace of knowing Jesus, to really know him, changes our lives. The scriptures proclaimed in the Mass reveal grace that invites us into relationship with Christ Jesus. Grace floods our lives when the words are opened up in the Mass. Jesus is present in the Word, really present to the aches and pains of our lives.
We belong to Christ Jesus by the authority of our baptism. Our hearts yearn for his presence. We are called to simply be open to receive his love and mercy. We often put up obstacles from receiving him. We may think we are not good enough, or moral enough. Our pride gets in our way when we hold up all the obstacles of our hearts to hide his presence. We even blame Jesus sometimes for the outcomes of our lives rather than allowing him to simply enter the mystery of our suffering.
Jesus offered Peter the authority to create something new on earth. Jesus is still offering us the opportunity to create the Church, to become the Church, to live the Church on the earth. From our openness to others, from our willingness to serve the lost and forgotten, from our ability to forgive others and ourselves, from moments of love and acceptance, we come to realize our relationship with Jesus.
I invite you this week to enter into the question Jesus is asking of us today, “Who do you say that I am?” Sit in quiet prayer. Believe he places the answer within you. Hope that your answer may find its way to the surface of your life in how you live, love and serve. We cannot hold Jesus at a distance or think he must be for the holy, the ultra pious and well deserving. Seize his love for you.
Jesus invites us to create something new, just as he invited Peter. Who knows how love within our lives will change the world? Give in, and allow Jesus to be in relationship with you.