In the days of black and white TV several game shows gained popularity by presenting a mystery guest while the panelists would try to guess his/her identity. Blind folds, disguised voice, or only “yes or no” answers made the show interesting. The more that the mystery guest could elude the panelists, the more money the guest took home.
Almost sounds like Jesus came as a mystery guest and the Apostles were the panelists. Are you John the Baptist? Or Elijah? Or Jeremiah? The Apostles were only repeating what they had heard on the streets—the rumors that were circulating. People talked according to what Jesus said, how He acted, the company He kept, in order to determine His identity. They all guested incorrectly. He was none of the above. Jesus did not hide. He was not a hypocrite. One the contrary, everything Our Lord did was done in plain sight, for all to see. His mission was clear. However, people preferred the rumors. Rumors are more interesting, even if they are false. A wise man once said, “Never believe rumors, even if you start them.” Rumors can destroy a person’s reputation. Jesus must have heard something about what folks were saying about Him; so, He checked with the Apostles. “What are people saying about me?” The rumors were not necessarily bad, just inaccurate. St. Peter made the declaration of faith: “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” That was the true identity of Jesus. All of Apostles had been exposed to the same Jesus. They had traveled with Him, heard His sermons, seen Him perform miracles. Yet, Peter was the first one to speak.
Obviously, St. Peter was not shy. Remember that He had asked Jesus to cure his mother-in-law. Peter caught a great number of fish when he did what Jesus asked. He is the one who dared to walk on water when all the others stayed in the safety of the boat. St. Peter was not someone that we would classify as a brilliant man. But he was in love with the Lord. He trusted in the words that Jesus spoke. That’s all that he needed. Given all of Peter’s deficiencies, the Lord still named him as head of the Church. “You are Petrus and upon this rock I will build my church.” Peter and Paul are the founders of our Catholic Church. They got the ball rolling. They got the ball rolling by sharing the fact that Jesus is the Christ, Son of the living God. Everything that the Church teaches is based on that statement. The proclamation is the corner stone of our faith. With Christ everything has meaning and without Him nothing makes sense.
Yet, we keep trying to do things our way. Jesus often becomes a last resort—like for emergencies. Like the folks who take out a new apparatus and try to put it together and when they realize that they can’t, they sit down to read the instructions. We cannot live outside of Jesus Christ. But some people take a life-time to arrive at that realization. Grandma used to end every sentence with the words, “If God wills.” Because He sustains us in existence. In Him we live and move and have our being. Imagine the confidence that Peter had when He made his declaration of faith. He basically handed his life over to the Lord. “Do with me what you will.” Jesus can work with anyone who is willing to hand their life over to Him. Our past is not important because we can never change the past. Many allow the past to stop them from giving themselves entirely to Christ. The Church that St. Peter built is a hospital for sinners not a museum of folks who never messed up. The more imperfect that we are, the more we need God. Our salvation has been won by the death and resurrection of Jesus, not by our merits. We will always come up short if we rely only on our efforts.
“You are the Christ, the son of the living God.” That’s the only truth that we need to know.