Recognizing Christ, The Son Of The Living God
Readings: 1st: Is 22, 19-23; Ps 137, 1-3.6. 8; 2nd: Rom 11, 33-36; Gos: Mt 16, 13-20
This brief reflection was written by Fr. Njoku Canice Chukwuemeka, C.S.Sp. He is a Catholic Priest and a member of the Congregation of the Holy Spirit (Spiritans). He is a missionary in Puerto Rico, the island of enchantment. He is the Chancellor of the Dioceses of Fajardo-Humacao, Puerto Rico; the Parish Priest of Parroquia la Resurrección del Senor, Canovanas and the Major Superior of the Congregation of the Holy Spirit (Spiritans), Circumscription of Puerto Rico and Dominican Republic. For more details and comments contact him at: firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com.
On this twenty first Sunday, the church enjoins us to recognize and reverence Christ. It is only when we recognize who Christ is, as Peter did, that we can appreciate his greatness. However, this is only possible through the power of the Holy Spirit.
In the first reading of today, God manifested his power as the sovereign Lord. He dethroned the proud and wicked Shebna, and exalted the humble and faithful Eliakim. In this reading, Eliakim prefigures Christ, the messiah: He who has the key of David, He who opens and no one shuts, and shuts and no one opens” (Rev 3: 7). Through his humility, the God gave him all authority both in heaven and on earth. In turn, through His solemn declaration, Christ delegated the same authority to Peter over his church as we see in today’s gospel.
In the second reading, Paul exalts the greatness of God. He contemplates: “How rich are the depths of God, how impossible to penetrate his motive or understand his methods, who could ever know the mind of God?” Surely, as humans, we cannot fathom the wisdom and greatness of God. However, God reveals himself to those who love him, and to whomever he chooses to reveal himself to.
He reveals the depth of his mind to the one who is willing to go extra mile with him, and to the one who is docile to the Spirit of God. So, it is not surprising that he revealed himself in a very special way to his humble servants like Mary, Peter, Paul and other apostles.
He reveals himself to those who seek him in truth, honesty and with a clear conscience. He has revealed himself fully to us in Jesus Christ. Hence, only those who allow the eyes of their mind to be illumined by the Holy Spirit can comprehend the depths of God’s motive.
Today’s gospel begins in a very dramatic and interesting way. Jesus was aware of the confusion about his personality and mission. So, He decided to know what his disciples think about him: “Who do people say I am…You, who do you say I am?” From the response of some of them, it was obvious that they had no clear idea of who Christ was.
Peter came to their rescue. “You are the Christ, the son of the living God!” This is the answer to the “messianic secret” (Mk 1: 43-35). How did Peter know this? Simple! God himself revealed it to him through the Holy Spirit as Jesus affirmed.
The response of Peter, provoked a very important declaration from Christ, similar to the one in our first reading. The keys were given to Peter as a sign of his apostolic and ministerial authority over the entire church of Christ. This became possible because he recognized Christ. So, Christ was not wrong by making him the head of his earthly church. This is the position he occupies till today through the apostolic succession of the Popes.
If Christ were to ask us the same question today, “who do you say I am”? What would be our response? We cannot comprehend who Christ is unless we have an intimate relationship with him. Again, and most importantly, we cannot respond fully to this question unless we are docile to the Holy Spirit who reveals the depth of God’s mind to us.
Finally, only believers who recognize who Christ is, have a special place in him. Therefore, our greatest desire every day should be: “To know Christ and the power of his resurrection, and to share in his suffering, by becoming like him in his death” (Phil 3:10).
Peace be with you all!