“Who do you say that I am?”  

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The WORD in other words by Fr. Xene Sanchez, SVD (Kinshasa-Congo)

Thursday 18th Week in Ordinary Time

When Pope Benedict XVI received the pallium as the successor of Peter, he mentioned in his sermon that “Only when we meet (encounter) the living God in Christ do we know what life is…  There is nothing more beautiful than to be surprised by the Gospel, by the encounter with Christ (April 24, 2005).” This personal encounter with Christ also came up in Pope Francis’ first apostolic exhortation: “The joy of the Gospel fills the hearts and lives of all who encounter Jesus. Those who accept his offer of salvation are set free from sin, sorrow, inner emptiness, and loneliness” (Evangelii Gaudium, n°1).

Conferences, homilies, books, social media, and charismatic persons help us to deepen our knowledge of God and Jesus. In Caesarea Philippi, Jesus first asked his disciples who people said that the Son of Man was. Next, he addressed his disciples directly: “But who do you say that I am?” On everyone’s behalf, Peter answered: “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.” The answer did not come from his intelligence but from a special revelation coming from God. The peak of Peter’s incredible experience, recognizing Christ and receiving the highest responsibility, was immediately followed by his most downgrading moment when his title, “Rock,” was replaced by “Satan.” Knowing the Lord takes time. Before the resurrection, there is passion and death.

May Jesus’ question echo in our hearts: “Who do you say that I am?” May the Most High reveal Jesus to us as we wish to encounter him in our lives. Today, the feast of the Dedication of the Basilica of Saint Mary Major, we honor Mary, the mother of Jesus, deserving the title Queen because she followed Jesus on his way to Jerusalem till the foot of the Cross, until his death. 

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