Peter’s Confession about Jesus
Wit & Wisdom (November 4, 1998) reported this story which I liked so much. A leading actor was honored at a banquet. In the after dinner ceremonies the actor was asked to recite for the pleasure of his guest. He consented, and asked if there was anything special anyone in the audience would like to hear.
There was a moment’s pause, and then an old clergyman spoke up. “Could you, sir,” he said, “recite the twenty-third Psalm?” A strange look came over the actor’s face, but he was speechless only for a moment. “I can sir and I will, on one condition, and that is that after I have recited, you, my friend will do the same.” “I?” replied the surprised clergyman, “but I am not an elocutionist. However, if you wish, I will do so.”
Impressively the actor began the Psalm, holding his audience spellbound. As he finished, a great burst of applause broke from the guest. After the applause had ceased, the old clergyman arose. The audience sat in intense silence. The Psalm was recited, and when it was done, there was not the slightest ripple of applause but those in the audience whose eyes were yet dry had their heads bowed.
The great actor, with hand on the shoulder of the old clergyman, his voice trembling, exclaimed: “I reached your eyes and ears my friends, this man reached your hearts. I know the twenty-third Psalm, this man knows the Shepherd.”
In today’s gospel, Jesus asks His disciples, ‘Who do you say that I am’ (v. 15), after He asked them, ‘who the people say that the Son of Man is.’ Peter came to the rescue and correctly pronounced his reply: “You are the Messiah the Son of the living God.” I’m sure with this answer Jesus is so happy and He smiles. Indeed He is so happy that He says to Peter: “You are Peter and upon this rock I will build my church.” This is an authority given to Peter to govern the church that Jesus builds, a church that no powers overcomes. Jesus gives Simon a new name, ‘Peter,’ which at that time there was no proper name like this one. ‘Peter’ is a name which means rock or Cephas in Jesus’ Aramaic language. In Greek, it is Petros and in Latin, it is Petrus.
For us today Jesus is throwing this same question, which He asked His disciples before. But I believe we can answer this question if we know very much who are we as Christians before God. Who are we? An SVD priest, in his homily said that a Christian is a child of God by virtue of the sacrament of Baptism. As a child of God, a Christian shares in the life of Christ and in the mission of Christ. Thus St. Paul the Apostle could admonish his Christian believers to be of the mind and heart of Christ. And just as the mission of Christ would not be made perfect without the cross, so also the life and mission of a Christian is not complete without sharing in the cross of Christ.
But above all today’s gospel reminds us of the heavy burden on the shoulders of the Pope, Peter’s successor. It is because, as Vicar of Christ here on earth, he always asks Jesus to strengthen all of us in our faith. Let us always pray that the Holy Father may continue his wonderful manner of carrying out this mission.