“AND YOU, WHO DO YOU SAY THAT I AM?”
I guess those who are familiar with Facebook, twitter, whatsapp; these words: “friend requests”, add friends are not alien words. Thanks to the growing fastness of the internet connection and the vast evolution of smart mobile phone, that makes it easier for us to make friendship with everybody across the world. Thus, someone can even have thousands friends or followers, although not all of them are known personally to him and surely only few that he has met. Yes, we have to acknowledge that such friendships will remain still superficial.
Reading the Gospel of this coming Sunday, the solemnity of two great heroes Ss. Peter and Paul, offers us another way of looking at true friendship, a sincere relationship with a person, especially with Jesus. True and sincere friendship implies a better knowledge of the person; in other words intimacy should be built upon a personal encounter, a personal experience with the person. After having formed and worked for sometimes with his apostles, Jesus determined to ask for a verdict from them by putting across two questions: “Who do men say that the Son of Man is?” And “Who do you say that I am?” Jesus might have been aware of his time that was short, his days on earth were numbered; thus he must have known before he set out from Jerusalem and the Cross if anyone had even dimly grasped who and what he was. Obviously that was a crucial problem, for it involved the very survival of Christian faith, if there were none who had grasped the truth, or had reached a clear understanding of it, then all Jesus’ work was all in vain; if there were a few who realized the truth, his work would be safe. Interestingly He did not ask the question directly; but he led up to it by asking what people were saying about him and who they took him to be. When Jesus had heard the opinions of the crowds, he wanted his disciples to come to their own conviction; he then asked the all important question: “And you- who do you say I am?” The spontaneous acclamation and great confession of Peter somehow gave Jesus confidence that at least he knew now that there was at least someone who had recognized him as the Messiah, the Anointed One of God, the Son of the living God. The same question is also addressed to each of us: “You-what do you think about me? Indeed our discovery of Jesus Christ must be a personal discovery. Our knowledge of Jesus must never be second hand, ie heard from others. It can’t be at level of discovering and adding friend as we do at Facebook; or as a follower of the twitter, or member of a whatsapp group. Our Christian faith never consists in knowing about Jesus; but it always consists in knowing Jesus which implies a personal encounter and experience of Jesus in one’s prayer, meditation, struggling of everyday life. Thus our answer to the question who is Jesus will never be a copy paste answer from someone’s reply but it must come from one’s own and true friendship with Jesus. The two great heroes in Church history, SS. Peter and Paul, who were very different from each other, are the perfect examples of persons who had encountered Jesus personally and eventually had given the right answer to Jesus’ question. Yes, both have captured the popular imagination of the Catholic tradition for centuries, two pillars of the Catholic faith and as the two great champions who remain an inspiration to all the disciples of the Lord. The legacy of Ss. Peter and Paul is coming from their unshakeable faith in Jesus, their immense love for him, their zeal for the spread of the Gospel, and their dedication to promote the good of the Church. These were the shared treasures which brought both of them to suffer martyrdom in the Eternal City; one by crucifixion and the other by beheading