“Who do you say I am?”
Albert Schweitzer wrote that: “throughout the centuries, people have recreated Jesus into what they thought He should be”. And it might seem that Jesus today invites us to create our own subjective image of Him according to our own ideas. However Peter’s response makes it clear that this question requires an answer founded not in our own desires, but upon objective truth.
The answer to who Jesus is must be based on the certitude of revelation. Peter does not rely on subjective feelings or psychological projections of his own mind and desires. Rather, Peter’s faith is firmly established on the divine truth of revelation.
Jesus’ identity is not subject to the changes of history, nor does it change according to our human feelings and desires. Objective truth remains the same down through the ages. In today’s Gospel, then, two certain truths about the person of Christ are revealed to St Peter. First, that Jesus is the long-expected Messiah or Anointed One (the Christ) foretold by the Prophets. And second, that He is the Son of the Living God.
And Jesus asks the same question of each one of us: “Who do you say I am?” Every human person who desires to understand the purpose of his/her existence – must try to answer this question posed by Jesus. Schweitzer answered it, but got it wrong, because we do not make Jesus live through our thoughts! The Saints answered it and got it right! It is Jesus, Who gives makes us alive with His grace, if we allow Him to. It is Jesus, Who allows our flesh and blood to one day to share in His resurrection, if we allow Him to!
Peter’s life is shown to be changing throughout the New Testament writings after he answered the question of who Jesus is. Changing for the better!!
“Who do you say that Jesus is?” If our answer is the same as Schweitzer’s, Jesus will become what we want Him to be, and no change in us is required.
However, if our answer is the same as Peter’s, our life must also be changing, and changing for the better. The way we think and act at home at school and at work. The way we interact with others in doing what is morally good and avoiding doing what is morally wrong or evil. Our love for Jesus should deepen in the Holy Eucharist and in the Sacrament of Reconciliation.
Our change for the better may not be as dramatic as it was in the life of Saint Paul it may take a more gradual journey as it did with Saint Peter. But Christ-like goodness and charity should be shining ever more brightly through us year by year.