Now when Jesus came into the district of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?” And they said, “Some say John the Baptist, but others Elijah, and still others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.” He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” Simon Peter answered, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.” And Jesus answered him, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father in heaven. And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not prevail against it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.”
I keep getting invited to give retreats to kids who are about to receive the Sacrament of Confirmation. It suddenly struck me the last time I had to do this that many of the children had absolutely no desire to receive confirmation because they had little or no faith in Jesus at all. (For those who may not be of the faith, Confirmation is the sacrament by which Catholics receive a special outpouring of the Holy Spirit.)
So why receive the Sacrament then? Mostly because they were being forced by their parents — who themselves had little or no faith in Jesus — to be confirmed merely because it was one of those things that had to be done if you were a Christian. Consequently, these youngsters, who should have walked out of church empowered and emboldened to live a life of holiness and be a great witness to Christ, become an embarrassment to Jesus by the way they live thereafter.
As we saw yesterday, to be a true follower of Jesus we have to deny ourselves and die to ourselves (see https://youtu.be/nYzRIsXVrjo). But in order to follow him, we need to know who he is. So, the question Jesus asks his apostles in todays reading is a good question to ask ourselves: “Who do you say I am?” Please take a moment to answer this now. Who do you say Jesus is? Lord? Teacher? Are you sure? Is he really your Lord and Teacher?
At the Last Supper, after Jesus washed his apostles feet he said to them, “You call me ‘Teacher’ and ‘Lord,’ and rightly so, for that is what I am. Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have ... set you an example, then you should do as I have done for you” (John 13:14-15 PAR). Don’t you think this makes sense? If we call somebody Lord, then we are his subjects, right? And we are obligated to do whatever he asks us to do, ya?
Jesus never asked us to do anything that he hadn’t done. Not one thing. Which is pretty amazing because he didn’t really need to do this. As our Lord, he could still command us and we would have to obey, but he humbled himself and did everything he wanted us to do so we could actually see that it was doable! So, if we don’t do what he asks us to do, is he really our Lord? So, why pretend? Let us just say that we are the Lord of our lives and continue to do whatever we want, no?
Or let us declare boldly that Jesus IS Lord, and lead lives that prove this. And, then, perhaps our kids will eagerly look forward to the Sacrament of Confirmation and receiving the great things God wants to give them.