Who Do You Say That I Am?

08-27-2023Letter from the PastorFr. Don Kline, V.F.

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

In today’s Gospel reading from Matthew 16:13-20, we are given a pivotal moment in the life of Jesus and His disciples. This passage is important to Catholics since it speaks to the very foundation upon which Christ has built the Catholic Church. It’s a passage that invites us to reflect on our faith, our understanding of Jesus, and our role within the Body of Christ.

Jesus posed a critical question to His disciples: “Who do people say the Son of Man is?” Of course, Our Lord knew who He was but Jesus leading His disciples to a much deeper place in their faith. They responded, recounting the various opinions circulating, likening Him to John the Baptist, Elijah, or other prophets. But Jesus was not really interested in public opinion; He was seeking a confession of their faith.

Then Our Lord posed a more intimate question: “But who do you say that I am?” Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, boldly declared, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.” This confession of Peter points to very foundation of the Catholic faith. Peter recognized Jesus as the long-awaited Savior, the fulfillment of God’s promise to His people.

In response, Jesus blessed Peter, affirming the divine origin of this revelation. He said, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah. For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my heavenly Father.” This confession highlights the essential role of divine revelation in understanding and accepting Jesus as the Christ – the power and presence of God the Father.

But the Gospel passage does not end there. Jesus tells Peter “You are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church, and the gates of the netherworld shall not prevail against it.” Jesus makes a play on words, using Peter’s name (which means “rock”) to signify Peter’s foundational role in the Church established by Christ himself.

The Church, then, is built upon the rock of Peter’s confession and the truth that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God. This profession of faith becomes the bedrock upon which the Church stands, the unshakable foundation that will withstand the storms of time, persecution, and doubt. And the netherworld shall not prevail against her!

Moreover, Jesus bestows upon Peter the keys of the Kingdom of Heaven, symbolizing the authority and responsibility to guide and shepherd the faithful. This authority is not about wielding power as much as it is a call to serve Our Lord and by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, to guide Holy Mother Church in love and truth, to bind and to loose with wisdom, in accordance with the teachings of Christ.

Today, Our Lord reminds us of the significance of our confession of faith. Like Peter, we are called to declare Jesus as the Messiah, the Son of the living God. Our faith becomes the driving force behind our actions, the source of our hope, and the foundation of our relationships with God and one another. Our Lord turns to each of us and asks, “But who do you say that I am?” Let us pray that each of us, in our own heart, reaffirm our belief in Christ as Our Savior and the Messiah. And just as Peter’s confession led to the establishment of the Church, may our faith motivate us to contribute to the growth and flourishing of the Body of Christ.

In this world filled with uncertainties and challenges, I pray that you can take solace in the promise Jesus made concerning Holy Mother Church: “the gates of the netherworld shall not prevail against it.” May you find comfort in our unshakable foundation, our firm faith in Jesus Christ, and let us strive to live out our faith daily, guided by the teachings of our Lord and the example of Saint Peter.

May the Holy Spirit empower us to proclaim our faith, to be living witnesses of the Gospel, and to contribute to the building of Christ’s Church on the solid rock.

God Bless,

Fr. Don Kline, V.F.