Pretty good rumors were out about Jesus. Some said that he was John the Baptist, Elijah, Jeremiah, or one of the prophets. Nice, juicy rumors, but not accurate.
As in most cases, rumors can be interesting, but usually not true. Remember a line from the sitcom “Hee Haw…Now, we’re not ones to go around spreading rumors. Why really, we’re not just the gossipy kind. Oh, you’ll never hear one of us repeating gossip. So, you’d better be sure and listen close the first time.” Obviously, gossip is nothing new. People said things behind others back 2,000 years ago and before. Sometimes the rumors can be positive, but for the most part, can do a lot of damage. Nice things about somebody are not exciting. Dirt gets the attention. Scandalous stuff spreads like wildfire. Given our modern devices of communication someone’s reputation can be ruined in a matter of seconds. Jesus was genuinely interested in what people were saying about him. So He asked His disciples. We have no clue as to which of the disciples responded to the question. Could have been one of them or several with their ear to the ground. However, the result was that public opinion was wrong! None of the rumors were accurate. What a surprise! We tend to believe things if enough people are repeating the same thing. Worse, we even believe rumors in matters of faith, just because many people are saying the same thing—must be true. For example, “You can’t receive Holy Communion if you’ve missed Mass and haven’t gone to Confession.” Not true. Especially during this time when the Bishop has dispensed everyone from the weekend obligation. In some parishes, Confession is not available yet. So, when in doubt, don’t believe the rumors. Even if you saw it on TV. Not everything on TV or YouTube or Tweeter can be believed.
Majority wins. But majority is not always correct. The majority praised Jesus Christ and one week later, the same majority crucified Him. What others say about us is important. Yet, what we think about ourselves is more important. Self-esteem, self-image, self-worth can either make or break a person. The majority of us carry hurts all the way back to our childhood. Comes a time when we have to make peace with who we are—the good and the not so good. As much as we might desire, the past can never be changed—only forgiven. We can try not repeat unhealthy patterns. Once in a while we can look in the rear-view mirror, but not live with regrets.
People will always talk. We cannot live our life based on what others say. Jesus certainly did not. That’s why He was hung on a cross. His goal was not to please, but to speak the truth, to stand with those who had no voice, to forgive sinners. Jesus did not fit the description of the Messiah. The Lord did not meet the expectations of the respectable leadership. That’s why St. Peter’s confession is important. St. Peter was able to see beyond appearances, circumstances, economic status. He saw Jesus as the only hope for humanity. “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah. For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you.” (You didn’t get this information from rumors. You didn’t learn this from a book. You weren’t inspired from your own talents.). “No, Peter, my heavenly Father has shown you the truth.” What we would call a “God moment.” Considering all the problems we face, we need to remember who is in charge. God is certainly giving us plenty of “God moments”. We just have to be receptive, especially during prayer. We are not going to get a “shake, rattle and roll” type of feeling every time we pray. Yet, God does speak to us. He directs us to look at His Son. To recognize Him as the Christ—the only hope for the world. Having to experience death, devastation, anguish has brought us to realize our smallness.
We come before the Lord in humility and ask for His help. We are nothing without Him and with Him all things are possible. Like St. Peter we say, “You are the Christ, Son of the living God.”