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Back The Twenty-First Sunday in Ordinary Time
Thursday, August 20, 2020
The “Pew Research Center” is a nonpartisan, non-for-profit think tank based in Washington, DC that provides information on social issues, public opinion, and demographic trends shaping the USA and the world. It accomplishes this by conducting public opinion polling, demographic research and media content analysis. Its disciplined methods are well respected.
In this weekend’s Biblical lesson from the Gospel of St. Matthew, Jesus could have used such a tool. Jesus wishes to take a survey about how regular people are perceiving His teaching and ministry. He knows well that most people would feel free to talk to one of the twelve, than directly to Him. “Who do people say that I am?” This is a fundamental evaluative question. The answers that the disciples share with Him with are very logical. The people recognize Jesus as a prophet. Some ID Him very closely with that of John the Baptist, come back to life; others with the great prophet Elijah who has returned among them.
Peter’s dialogue with Jesus about the question is the reason that this Gospel text which was written majorly to a Jewish audience is referred to as the Church’s Gospel. “You are the Christ, the son of the Living God.” (Matthew 16:16). Jesus’ response to Peter was that his response is not information based from what others have told him. No, his response must have come from his own satisfied expectation. This was a satisfaction of faith that only the Heavenly Father could impart. Jesus calls Simon a “rock,” “Peter,” and upon this rock Jesus would build His assembly.
To be part of the “assembly of believers,” we too have to answer the question for ourselves. Who do you say that Jesus is? This is not a survey though. This is a fundamental question of life. For if we too respond that Jesus is the Son of the Living One and True God, then this faith requires us to give a concrete witness to that belief. Our lives must “walk the walk” as our lips “talk the talk.”
Many individuals respect Jesus as a prophet of His time. Many people believe Him to be an important figure in the history of humankind. Many have studied the scriptures and have gained in their knowledge and respect for Him. But Jesus’ question to Peter is a question that He asks of us all. “But who do you say that I am?”