“Who do you say I am.”
A Monthly Meditation on the Gospel
according to St. Matthew 16:13-20
Father John Satoru Kato,
the Parish at Kamifukuoka
In the name of the Father, and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Amen.
Shortly before making the final journey to Jerusalem, Jesus asked his disciples, “Who do people say I am?” They said, “Some say John the Baptist, some Elijah, and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.”
“But you”, Jesus, then, asked his disciples, “who do you say I am?”
Peter spoke up to Jesus without hesitation, but for his life without reserve.
“You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”
“Jesus, then, replied to him, ‘Simon, son of Jonah, you are a blessed man! Because it was no human that revealed this to you but my Father in heaven. So, I now say to you: You are Peter and on this rock (peter means rock) I will build my Church. And the gates of the underworld can never overpower it. I will give you the keys of the Kingdom of Heaven: whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven; whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven”.
For Peter, to confess to Jesus that He is the Christ, the Son of the living God, is to entrust himself, even to offer himself, to Jesus without reserve. In return, Jesus will sacrifice Himself even on the Cross to Peter, in order to give him a new and eternal life, that is, the life with Jesus and in Him.
This was not only the story of Peter, but was also the story of Paul, as well. Because it was the same Lord Jesus, but the Risen Christ, whom Paul encountered. Paul, too, believed in Jesus as the Christ, then, offered himself to Him until his death. In return, Christ Jesus, the Risen Lord, gave His life to Paul in the same way as He did to Peter.
This now should be the story not only of Peter and Paul but also of each of you. If you were neither asked by Jesus with the same question, that is, “who you say I am”, then, nor you answered to Him with the same answer as Peter and Paul did, that is, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God”, you would never have life. But, when asked by Jesus, then you will do the same as Peter and Paul did to Him, you will surely be given the same life as those of Peter and Paul’s, the life eternal in Jesus and with Him.
On 29th June, the Catholic Church celebrates the Feast of two of the Greatest Saints, Peter and Paul, throughout the world and through the centuries since, some says, 258 when it was still in the difficult time of the Church, even during the time of severe persecution by the Roman Empire. Even so, they fearlessly started this feast as they clearly knew that to confess to Jesus as the Christ, the Son of the living God, following Peter and Paul even by sacrificing their lives, was far more important to stick themselves to their earthly lives.
And above all, they were fully convinced of the truth that, with the question asking you ‘who you say I am’, Jesus brought with Him and in Him the Kingdom of Heaven to them without question or doubt. They were also confident that, with believing in Jesus and confessing to Him that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the living God, even the Heaven would be opened to them. And to you, the truth will be the same.
This is the reason why we celebrate the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass every Sunday, the Day of the Resurrection of the Lord, in order to follow the same steps of Peter and Paul. It is in the Mass when we confess to Jesus and offer ourselves in the same way as Peter and Paul did. It is also in the Mass when Jesus, the Risen Lord, will sacrifice Himself to us, by giving Jesus Himself to us in the Blessed Sacrament as He did to Peter and Paul.
Indeed, it is the Risen Lord Jesus, who is, really, present to us in the form of the Blessed Sacrament, the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ, once broken and poured out on the Cross. It is indeed the same Lord, whom we receive in the Blessed Sacrament at the Mass as Peter and Paul received in the same way.
Now, we celebrate, with the two great Saints Peter and Paul, the Risen Life of the Lord Jesus, as well as our risen lives in Him, in gratitude, who is really with us in the Blessed Sacrament here in the Holy Sacrifice of Mass.
In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.