Pope Francis reflected on the Sunday Gospel of this August 27 with questions to ask ourselves … questions that Jesus asks us.
We share his brief reflection for our prayer, emphases our own:
Today in the Gospel (cf. Mt 16, 13-20), Jesus asks the disciples a good question: “Who do men say that the Son of man is?” (v.13).
It is a question we too can ask: What do Jesus’ people say? In general, good things: many see him as a great teacher, as a special person: good, righteous, consistent, courageous… But is this enough to understand who He is, and above all, is it enough for Jesus? It seems not. If He were simply a person from the past – just as the figures cited in the same Gospel, John the Baptist, Moses, Elijah and the great prophets were for the people – He would merely be a good memory of a bygone time. And for Jesus, this will not do.
Therefore, immediately afterwards, the Lord asks the disciples the decisive question: “But who do you – you! – say that I am?” (v. 15). Who am I for you, now? Jesus does not want to be a key figure from past history; He wants to be an important person for you today, for me today; not a distant prophet: Jesus wants to be the God who is close to us!
Christ, brothers and sisters, is not a memory of the past, but the God of the present. If He were merely an historic figure, to imitate Him today would be impossible: We would find ourselves faced with the great chasm of time, and above all, faced with his model, which is like a very high, unscalable mountain; we would want to climb it, but lack the ability and the necessary means. Instead, Jesus is living: Let us remember this, Jesus is living, Jesus lives in the Church, He lives in the world, Jesus accompanies us, Jesus is by our side, He offers us His Word, He offers us His grace, which enlighten and refresh us on the journey: He, an expert and wise guide, is happy to accompany us on the most difficult paths and the steepest slopes.
Dear brothers and sisters, we are not alone on the path of life, because Christ is with us, Christ helps us to walk, as He did with Peter and the other disciples. It is precisely Peter, in today’s Gospel, who understands this and by grace recognizes in Jesus “the Christ, the Son of the living God” (v. 16): “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God,” says Peter; He is not a character from the past, but the Christ, that is, the Messiah, the awaited one; not a deceased hero, but the Son of the living God, made man and come to share the joys and the labors of our journey.
Let us not be discouraged if at times the summit of the Christian life seems too high and the path too steep. Let us look to Jesus, always; let us look to Jesus who walks beside us, who accepts our frailties, shares our efforts and rests his firm and gentle arm on our weak shoulders. With Him close at hand, let us also reach out to one another and renew our trust: with Jesus, what seems impossible on our own is no longer so, with Jesus we can go forth!
Today it will be good for us to repeat the decisive question, that comes out of his mouth: “Who do you – Jesus says to you – who do you say that I am?” Let us hear the voice of Jesus, who asks us this.
In other words: who is Jesus for me? An important figure, a point of reference, an unattainable model? Or is He God the Son, who walks by my side, who can lead me to the peak of holiness, that I cannot reach by myself?
Is Jesus truly living in my life, does Jesus live with me? Is He my Lord? Do I entrust myself to Him in moments of difficulty? Do I cultivate his presence through the Word, through the Sacraments? Do I let myself be guided by Him, together with my brothers and sisters, in the community?
May Mary, Mother of the path, help us to feel that Son alive and present beside us.