Once when Jesus was praying alone, with only the disciples near him, he asked them, “Who do the crowds say that I am?” They answered, “John the Baptist; but others, Elijah; and still others, that one of the ancient prophets has arisen.” He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” Peter answered, “The Messiah of God.” He sternly ordered and commanded them not to tell anyone, saying, “The Son of Man must undergo great suffering, and be rejected by the elders, chief priests, and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised.”
New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved. http://www.usccb.org/bible/approved-translation
A few months ago before the Pope’s visit to the United States, a journalist asked me, “What’s the Pope’s main message going to be during his visit? The economy or the environment?”
I think my answer surprised him. “His main message is going to be Jesus Christ.” The Pope’s recent encyclical, Laudato Si’, focused on the environment; he also has written and spoken at length about economic matters and other social justice issues. But his main message is the Gospel. His main task is to proclaim the Gospel. And to help people come to know Jesus.
In today’s Gospel Jesus asks the disciples if they understand his identity. You can hear their hesitation. They won’t say what they believe; instead, they talk about others’ beliefs. Finally Peter gives the correct answer: “Christ.”
It’s important for all of us to ask ourselves the question, even if we understand that Jesus is the Christ. Who is Jesus for me? And what difference will he make in my life?
—Fr. James Martin, SJ, is the author of our special series of reflections in honor of Pope Francis’ visit to the U.S. Fr. Martin is associate editor of America magazine; a frequent commentator in the media; and author of many books, including, most recently, Jesus: A Pilgrimage and his novel The Abbey.
“Who is Jesus for me? Is he simply a name? an idea? A person from history? Or is he really someone who loves me, Who gave his life for me, and walks with me?” … “All that we have in this world will not satisfy our hunger for the infinite. We need Jesus; we need to remain with him, to nourish ourselves at his table, on his words of eternal life. When we are attached to Jesus, in a true relationship of faith and love, we are not bound, but rather, are profoundly free as we journey with him through life.”