Mission Society of the Philippines

Homilies

24th SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME: FAITH AS KNOWING GOD

Mk 8:27-35

 

TODAY’S GOSPEL READING is the turning point in gospel of Mark. We have heard about the life and ministry of Jesus, as well as His wondrous deeds. And these demonstrate that Jesus is not just an ordinary human, but the Son of God. However, many people, as well as the disciples of Jesus, have not yet realized His true identity. In today’s Gospel, Jesus asks the disciples for a field report by asking what the people say about Him. He then turns the question directly to the disciples and asks what they know about Him. Peter speaks for all of them and he answered that Jesus is the Christ.

Peter’s confession on Jesus at Caesarea Philippi is an all-time confession of a disciple. Let us go over once again the moments in the gospel for our further reflections.

First of all, the first question that Jesus raised is something significant: “Who do people say that I am?” Jesus was interested in the people’s view about Him. With all His preaching and healing, He was curious how the people now see Him. Unfortunately, the people thought of Jesus as a mere prophet. Jesus had an association with the prophets, and in fact, His life, ministry, and death, can be compared to a prophet. But it appears that He was not satisfied with those answers because, the truth is, Jesus is more than a prophet. Thus, there goes the next question.

Secondly, the next question was addressed to the disciples themselves. Jesus asked them: “But who do you say that I am?” Because Jesus had a closer relationship with His disciples, He must have expected a better and deeper answer coming from the disciples. It was Peter who rightly answered, “You are the Messiah!” It then appeared that Jesus must have agreed with what Peter had said, but, a different understanding of a Messiah, the Messiah who suffers.

St Paul, and the Fathers of the Church have taught that faith has an accompanying knowledge about God. Faith is knowledge, in other words. It is not correct at all to say that we believe in God and Jesus, and yet we have no knowledge about them. Thus, our journey of faith is also a journey of knowing God; a journey of knowing Jesus. As Pope emeritus Benedict XVI has said, our journey is a friendship with Jesus.

The question is: how can we attain knowledge about Jesus. They key to having it are the preceding questions of Jesus.

On the one hand, we can get knowledge about Jesus through other people. What do other people say about Jesus can help us in knowing Jesus. In the family, the grandparents, and parents are considered as the first teachers of the faith. As the children go to school and the Church, there are catechists who teach about the faith. Then, there are bishops and priests who preach about Jesus and His word. Thus, these people are our sources insofar the faith is concerned. What these people say and teach are significant to the growth of our faith.

On the other hand, we can also get knowledge about Jesus through our personal striving. Again, the question of Jesus is, “But you, who do you say that I am?” Peter was able to perfectly answer the question of Jesus because of his intimacy with Jesus. He was with Jesus; he journeyed with Jesus. The closer he was with Jesus, the deeper was his knowledge about Jesus.

In the same way, we need also a personal journey of knowing Jesus. What other people say about Jesus are helpful and important. But it is equally important to have a personal knowledge about Jesus. And how can we have this? Prayer can help us. Prayer is being with God; prayer is communication with God. Prayer can help us in our search for knowing who this God is. The other source is the Word of God. Many things about the life of Jesus have been written in the Bible. Thus, if we want to know more about Him, we spend time reading it.

Hence, in our search for knowing who Jesus Christ is, we rely on what other people say. We listen to the testimonies of the priests and bishops; of our parents and the catechists. These are correct, right and valid. But let us also remember that Jesus is also interested in our personal testimonies about Him. Peter’s confession on Jesus was great: He is the Messiah. But our own confession of who Jesus is can also be great. There must be an instance in our life wherein, like Peter, we can personally confess Jesus as our Lord and our Savior; a confession that comes out of our personal experience with Him. AMEN.


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