Sisters of St. Francis of the Holy Cross in Green Bay, WI
Reflection for Aug. 23, 2020

Reflection for Aug. 23, 2020

'Who do people say that the Son of Man is?'

Do we answer Jesus' question  with the accuracy of Simon Peter?

by Sister Sally Ann Brickner

Have you ever asked a friend, “What are people saying about me?” Maybe your curiosity has not evoked such an exchange. Nonetheless, it seems quite natural for a person to have concerns about what other people think. Those concerns may weigh heavily and often influence personal actions.

In Sunday's Gospel passage, Jesus inquires of his disciples: “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?” Jesus probably is not very curious about what people are saying about Him. He knows who He is. Jesus often referred to himself as either the Son of Man or the Son of David. In the first instance He humbly identified Himself a human person; in the second He referred to His heritage in the lineage of King David. What Jesus really wants to know is what His disciples think of Him.

Matthew wants to convey to his Jewish audience a vital truth about Jesus’ true identity. The setting for the interaction between Jesus and his disciples is significant; it is the mountainous region of northern Galilee where the Greco-Roman god Pan was worshipped. There, in response to Jesus’ question, Matthew places on the lips of Simon Peter a powerful statement of faith: “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” Simon Peter affirmed that Jesus is truly God, which Jesus does not deny. Instead, He tells Simon Peter that his insight is a gift from God, His Father, and then Jesus confers on Peter authority within the church, the community of disciples.

Let us imagine Jesus posing the same question to each of us. “But who do you say that I am?” Jesus’ question and our response are pivotal. Will we answer with the same faith that Simon Peter expresses? “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” Will we really mean it when we say that “You, Jesus, are God alone, and I will not follow any false gods.” With such faith we will be able to move mountains!


Jean Mauthe
08/21/2020 7:13 am

And move mountains, we must!!!!??

I do believe in Jesus as the Son of the living God but can I say it at the same intensity as Simon? I am afraid not. Lord please help me get to that level of intensity. Thank you Sister Sally for your inspiring reflection. Have a wonderful day!

08/21/2020 7:18 am

Ah, Peter! Out-spoken Peter! One who does not hide his feelings, nor try to conceal his thoughts. And so it is that Peter, who so boldly and confidently professed JESUS as The Christ in front of the other disciples, is also the one who, as all four gospel writers record, denied JESUS three times - and wept bitterly in the realization of his personal betrayal of his LORD. [Jn. 18: 15-27; Mt. 26: 69-70; Mk. 14: 66-68; Lk. 22:55-57]

And then, Martha ~ sister to Mary and Lazarus, a family from Bethany, and all very close friends of JESUS. Martha, too, professes JESUS as 'Messiah,' and 'Son of God.' [Jn. 11:17-27] And, so too, does the soldier at the cross, along with others, who witness the trembling and darkened earth as JESUS dies: Mt. 27:45-56;Mk. 15: 33-39; Lk. 23:44-49.

I wonder if, as JESUS probed Peter, along with the other disciples, as to his identity and what that meant to each one of them, if he could have known how many others would come to declare him as 'Messiah,' 'LORD,' 'Son of God?' How about you and I? Did JESUS have you and I in mind when he asked, "Who do you say that I AM?"

08/21/2020 7:32 am

Yes, it's time to move mountains! Believe, have faith!

Father Bill Jacobs
08/21/2020 9:05 am

Thanks so much for your wonderful reflection, Sister

When asked the question, "Who do you say Jesus is?" I answer, "He's my 'Best friend!'" In doing Wedding Preparations, I always stressed to young couples. Be each other's Best Friend, because Best Friends don't hurt each other. Bottom Line: Jesus never hurts me - I try very hard daily, not to hurt him!" Thanks for asking...

Diann Wimmer
08/21/2020 9:42 am

Thank you, Sally Ann, for highlighting this question presenting by Jesus in Sunday's Gospel.

I appreciate your challenge to answer the question from 2 different points of view. First, it seems easy to give an "identification" of who Jesus is according to his heritage and according to the prophetic writings. But then I consider your invitation to see the question from a personal viewpoint of who Jesus is for me. That leads me to contemplation. Many thanks.

Sister Rose Jochmann
08/21/2020 10:22 am

Thank you for your reflection - comparing Jesus asking who he is to our natural concern about what people think about us. Good question - Who do I say that Jesus is? What is my belief and how do I relate to Jesus?

Tom Hartman
08/21/2020 11:36 am

Sister Sally,

I enjoyed your reflection. In reading it my thoughts turned to the contemporary issues relating to people being concerned about what people think about them, Social Media. For all its good, it concerns me how many people are hurt by others comments and the negative impact they can have on one's own self image. It is probably most concerning considering the impact they can have on our young people, leading them to such despair and self doubt that they lose hope. I often wish that so many who are impacted by what others think about them could have that mind set of Jesus: "Jesus probably is not very curious about what people are saying about Him. He knows who He is." If each of us could just know and believe in who we are, what a shield it would be against concerns over what others think of us. Blessings!!!

08/21/2020 6:58 pm

I don't know what I would do if I didn't have my faith & my belief in the Father, Son & the Holy Spirit. They keep me going and I talk to them many times during the day! Amen!

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