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.
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 today in a world which worships gods in many 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?
Who is Christ today? He is suffering amongst tens of thousands cold victims of extra judicial killings; the millions of peoples who are being driven out of their lands; the peoples in Syria, Iraq, Yemen, Lebanon who are persecuted and massacred because of religious belief; the innocent children lying dead in the streets because of famine; the inhuman atrocities and scourge of wars and the innocent victims of terrorism around the world. They are the new faces of Christ today: suffering once again on the cross and crying for justice in their moments of abandonment.
Our response to the question of Jesus determines not just our assent 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 that make a difference in the lives of other people. It determines the daily choices and decisions we make as Christians. We are the voice and messengers of hope in a world that is in desperate need of a Saviour.