Is 22:19-23; Rom 11:33-36; Matt 16:13-20
In 1986, EDSA Revolution happened. Thousands of Filipinos went out from their homes, marched into the streets and participated in that revolution. After that, some would say that it was a miracle, that God really intervened, that it was the work of the Lord through the help of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Many statues of the Blessed Virgin Mary were shown on television brought by people. People put rosaries on the armed personnel carrier or tangke de guierra. Some groups would say also that was CIA (Central Intelligence Agency)-backed uprising because the CIA people could no longer use Pres. Marcos to advance their interests. Others, it was Ramos-Enrile Revolution because without their defection from Marcos, no revolution happened. There were so many interpretations and understanding of what EDSA Revolution is all about.
In the gospel of today, it seems that Jesus too was worried about His public image. Many have different answers when they asked who Jesus is to them. That is why He made His own survey and the respondents were His disciples. There were only two questions to be answered by His disciples: The first is: “Who do people say that I am?” and the second question was: Who do you say that I am?”
In response to the first question, they had listened to the people and talked with the people who had listened to Jesus’ preaching, with those who had been cured by Jesus or had seen Him healing. The apostles were up to date as regards the latest news. It is like movie personalities, we know their lives, in and out, more than Jesus. They gave the various opinions of the people. In that sense they followed what the other people said about Him during this time: that He is John the Baptist, Elijah, Jeremiah or one of the prophets.
But as we read further, we know that Jesus was not satisfied or interested in what other people said about Him. He was interested in a more profound question about His essential identity by asking them: “Who do you say that I am?” St. Peter answered the question profoundly too.
“Jesus wanted His apostles, as one priest said, “to think for themselves, to form their personal convictions. This process, of course, would be helped by grace. Peter, as the spokesman of the group, professed his faith in Jesus. ‘You are the Christ the Son of the living God,’ in other words, ‘you are the Messiah, the promised Redeemer, the One sent by God to redeem us.’”
For William Barclay, he interpreted Peter’s response by pointing out how Peter’s discovery was that: human categories alone were inadequate to identify Jesus. His public image as carpenter, teacher, faith healer, prophet and leader all failed to measure up to the true meaning of who He was.
All this is history now and yet the question Jesus asked His disciples continue to exist even up to the present life and is not an isolated question. We are also asked by the same question: “Who is Jesus for you and for me? It is a personal question that demands from us a personal response. It is a critical question that calls us to commitment. Your image of Jesus will identify you on how you relate and deal with other people.
For me if I am asked by the same question: My answer would not only be that He is the “Messiah, the Son of the living God,” but also that He is a friend of mine, an older brother, who is the Son of God. He is my friend in the sense that I can confide in Him my dark secrets without being laughed at; He laughs at my joke even if it is terrible and unlaughable; He knows about me but still like me; He is the person in a hundred who I can trust all the times; He likes, loves and usually cares about me.
So who is Jesus for you? Peter is a simple man, a fisherman and not an educated person but Jesus was satisfied with his answer. How about us who claimed as educated people, persons with colleges degrees, with masters or doctor’s degree, engineers, teachers, lawyers, who can read and write, do we answer Christ’s question the way Peter answered?
See Today’s Readings: Cycle A