Have you ever found a moment in life when you asked “what is life really all about?” How did you answer? Where was Jesus in your answer?
 
whoSometimes reflection comes not at the end of life, but before great questions of life. For the followers of Christ, the question “What is life all about?” could be asked in another way: “Who are you, Jesus?”
 
In our Gospel today, Matthew’s narrative on the great question can be divided into two sections: the question of Jesus with Simon’s response and Jesus’ mission for Simon.
 
“Who are you, Jesus?” In a non-Jewish neighborhood of Galilee, Jesus popped the question. In an atmosphere of anticipation for the time of God’s judgement, the disciples must have been asking themselves the same question. “We are following you, Jesus,” they may have wondered, “but what’s your place in God’s great plan?” Many expected Elijah to announce the coming of the Messiah before the end of the world. The paranoid Herod Antipas, the ruler who beheaded John the Baptist, was said to believe that Jesus was actually the Baptist raised from the dead! There were many other theories. Did Jesus fit any of these popular ideas, or was there more?
 
Simon, as the leader of the apostles, spoke up. His words represent the consensus of Jesus’ inner circle. In Matthew, Simon’s answer “Son of the living God” defined the title “Messiah.” Jesus was not a political Messiah, one who would lead an army against the Romans. He was not a popular Messiah, who would merely feed the poor. Here, Simon recognizes the unique relationship between Jesus and God, his Father.
 
In return for the answer to his question, Jesus “anointed” Simon with a blessing and a mission. Simon was blessed in two ways: 1) by a direct revelation by the Father and 2) by recognition from his Son. Then Jesus gave Simon a new mission, represented by a new name and a new status. Jesus called Simon, Peter, or “Rock.” Now, Peter was not only leader of the apostles; he was leader of the Church with the power of its head, Jesus Christ.
 
Peter’s answer and commission marked a turning point in the life of Jesus and his followers. From this point forward, Jesus was on the road to Jerusalem, to his death and his resurrection.
 
Who are you, Jesus? This question has been asked over and over throughout the centuries. For Christians, the answer is simple: Jesus is God’s Son and the bridge between the Father and his people.
 
When we spend our lives coming to know Jesus more fully, we also come to know that it is not enough to conform ourselves to the externals. Knowing Jesus requires an ongoing conversion of heart. We are to be living examples of followers of Jesus who risk everything and give everything because we know and love him.
 
 

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