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!