Saint Pope John Paul II wrote: “we need now more than ever to look the truth in the eye and call things by their proper name, without yielding to convenient compromises or to the temptation of self-deception.” In this world of the little white lie, the half-truth, the shading of the truth, the “spin” of the truth, it is refreshing to see Peter answer Christ in the way he did. No prevaricating, no rose-colored glasses, no avoidance—just the plain truth in response. It is always a joy to come upon any person who is committed to being truthful: to naming things as they are without some personal agenda for the outcome—with no spin on any situation for personal profit.
Today we, as confessed and Baptised Christians, are asked (like Peter) this same question by Jesus: “Who do you say I am?” As believers we are called to authenticity and truth—a hallmark of our faith in Christ. And we answer this question by our every day truth in deeds and words, by what we say and what we do; by how we say and do it; by our priorities and our choices. We are called to Community with all that this implies: in considering others first before ourselves; in sacrifice and love; in care and kindness and mercy—to live beyond our individualism, selfish wants and pursuits.
We hear today in Isaiah that God bestows the “key of the House of David on Eliakim’s shoulder; when he opens, no one shall shut, when he shuts, no one shall open.” It is authority that is conferred on Eliakim and this is also what occurs in the Gospel when Jesus tells Peter he will give him “the keys of the kingdom of heaven. Whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven; and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.” How we answer the Gospel question binds us all for good or evil because by our Baptism we too, have been given the keys to the kingdom.
Simon names Jesus as Christ and he changes and becomes Peter and is given the “keys.” Peter is more now than his failings, his sins, his sorrows, his hopelessness, his anger. In his new identity he has the support, love and reconciliation of Christ. He can look at himself in the mirror and call it like it is, and he can ask for forgiveness, and the grace and strength to be transformed. In conforming ourselves to Jesus (a continuing process), our lives must change profoundly; we must be converted and transformed, we must all be the rock upon which the church is built.
So, when confronted with this important question: “Who do you say I am?” Peter should inspire us to always answer with “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” People around us should hear this as our answer by who we are and what we do, by our commitment to the truth, by our love, and beyond ‘justice’ to mercy. This is a big question for us—and I pray we all answer with the truth of Christ to all, and in all things and situations. Keep the questioning, and the answer…and the truth. Who is Jesus to you?
Keep singing in your hearts!
Just a note:
A Psalm in Summer
I strain my ear to hear your voice, O, Lord.
My heart holds silent as it can when anxious thoughts assail.
Where are you in these moments full of doubt --
These days of questioning my very faith?
There! I hear you, God!
I hear you sing in rustling leaves and chirping birds --
In swaying grass caught by a gentle breeze.
You speak my name in every sound that wafts across the summer air.
And every song you sing says, “I am here, and you are mine!”
by Marion van der Loo