The WORD in other words (2021) by Fr. Fred Saniel, SVD (DWIMS, Tagaytay City)
About being married, a newlywed friend commented: “I can honestly say that I married someone I know but I really do not know.” Our experiences tell us that we can only know another better in a personal relationship characterized by depth and intimacy.
Jesus’ first question, “Who do the crowds say that I am?” appears to be an inquiry about the impressions of other people that had impacted the disciples’ minds. Jesus was probing the depth and intimacy of their relationship with him.
The second, a more personal question, was Jesus’ invitation for the disciples to probe his very heart. Peter’s reply, “the Messiah of God,” might not have had enough depth because Jesus rebuked them and directed them not to tell his identity to anyone as they had perceived him.
The impression that Jesus was the Messiah indicated the dangers of messianism – that he was the Messiah/ Savior who would save Israel from its enemies. Thus, Jesus told them that he must suffer greatly, be rejected by the leaders of Israel, be killed, and on the third day, be raised. He was a different Messiah: one they would really know when they would abandon him during his passion and death, recognize as the Lord of Life in his resurrection, and when they too would suffer the same fate as their Master.
We can only really know Jesus in our intimate and deep relationship with him – in our sinfulness and conversion, in our failures and triumphs, in our experiences of desolation and consolation. We can only know him when we experience what Jesus had experienced in his Paschal Mystery and finally arrive at a true and living knowledge that he indeed is our Savior.