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Who do you say that I am?

We all need to be loved. We need to know that someone cares about us, and that we mean something to them. Sometimes by our actions we can be saying to another person, especially to one that we say we are close to, that we really don’t care about them. And if you’ve ever confronted someone about this they would probably say to you, “Why would you question whether or not I care about you, or how could you ever doubt that I love you.” But we all know that actions speak louder than words. So, it is important to know that we are important to another person—that someone cares about us, that we matter to them.

The reason why I get into all of this is because of the scene that’s described for us in Matthew’s Gospel this morning. Jesus wants to know if, after all that he has been through so far with his apostles, does he really matter to them, do they understand who he is: “Who do you say that I am?” Notice, when Jesus was asking about what the crowds thought of him, the question was a bit more impersonal: “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?” This is quite different from “who do you say that I am?” But also notice how indifferent the group response was at first: “Some say John the Baptist, others Elijah, still others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.” When it comes to answering the more pointed question, the one that Jesus cares about the most, it’s Simon who speaks, alone: “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God”. And once Simon makes that proclamation, the rest of the conversation becomes very personal, almost intimate, just between Simon Peter and Jesus. It’s almost as if the spotlight is focused now on the two of them, and the others are out of sight or in the dark. 

A great scripture scholar, especially on the Gospel of Matthew, Erasmo Leiva-Merikakis (now Trappist monk, Father Simeon) wrote this about this scene:

“Therefore, Jesus’ question to the disciples is not so much an official examination at the end of a period of scholastic training as it is a hopeful query by a Lover who needs to know to what extent he is known, understood, and accepted in his deepest identity by those he loves, those to whom he has been at pains to manifest himself.”

Because Simon declares what he believes and doesn’t evade the question, he gets Jesus’ undivided attention (so to speak). And he can now transform Simon’s life in a powerful way, although there will still be plenty of ups and downs along the way. The hint at the future transformation comes when Jesus says, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah…and so I say to you you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church…”

So you see, once you acknowledge who Jesus is in your life, once you tell Him that he matters to you and that you need Him, Jesus can begin to transform your life. Jesus loves you and wants to help you. Will you let Him do that? 

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