21ST SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME - A
"Who is Jesus to me?" This is the most fundamental question that is asked of every Christian, being a disciple of Jesus during his time and to us in the present time.
Caesarea Philippi was a highly paganistic territory being dedicated to the god Pan and it was there that Jesus asked the question “Who do people say the Son of Man is?” When Jesus asked the question, it was not meant to check on the polls or a scientific survey but rather he was concerned whether his message was understood by the people. The responses were generic, as perceived by the people: as John the Baptist, Elijah, Jeremiah or one of the prophets. It means that the Jews were uncertain about the nature of his person, hence the confusion about his true mission. This led to the question of Jesus which was directed to the disciples themselves: “But who do you say that I am?” Peter, the spokesperson of the band, said “You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God.” The word Christ coming from the Greek word Christos is one of the titles of Jesus which means 'the Anointed One'; it is the equivalent of the Hebrew word Messiah. Following Peter's confession of faith, Jesus proclaimed the supremacy of Peter: “You are Peter and upon this rock I will build my Church.”
With the new faces of paganism challenging the world today, the same question is being asked of us: Is Christ still relevant in a world which continues to experience slavery of different forms? If He is, what does He offer to a world in desperate need of salvation? How does the Catholic Church differ from other agencies or religions that offer redemption?
Our response to the question of Jesus determines not just our belief to the doctrines taught to us by the Church but our personal relationship to Jesus. It defines who we are as a person, our dreams and aspirations, our values and character. It determines the daily choices and decisions we make. We might acquire many labels in life because of our status quo, education, career and many others but we share a common identity that defines us regardless of colour, race and culture: our being Christians, as followers of Christ. That is why the pains and suffering of our brothers and sisters being persecuted because of their Christian faith in Syria, Iraq and Lebanon are also our own. The inhuman atrocities they are experiencing at the moment is wounding the Body of Christ.
Who is Christ today? He is suffering amongst the millions of people who are being driven out of their lands; the hundreds of thousands of people who are massacred and innocent children lying dead in the streets. We condemn such barbaric acts! We pray that this heinous crime against humanity come to a stop. We pray that the peace of Christ reign in those besieged lands. Amen