I love this Sunday’s Gospel. Jesus is asking his disciples what people are saying about him and who he is. Then he brilliantly turns the question back to the Apostles, “and who do you say that I am?” Peter, inspired by the Holy Spirit responds, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” I could just picture Jesus smiling back at this response. In Luke’s account of the this passage (Lk. 9:18-21) Jesus helps all the apostles grow even more in faith in him because right after this he continues to answer the question with more detail. It’s almost like he is instructing them on what the statement that Peter said actually means. He says, “The Son of man must suffer many things, and be rejected by the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised.”
“Who do you say that I am?” Our lives ought to be a continuous answer to this question. Monastics, Benedictines, are called to live a life in total self denial, abandonment and obedience to the will of the Father. Our lives must in themselves proclaim Jesus as the Christ of God, the God who is living. And the very fact that one makes the decision to enter a monastery already begins to respond to this question, because it is a public act. We are publicly saying “Yes, I believe in Christ the Son of God, who suffered, died, and rose from the dead out of love for me, for us.” It is as if we, in the silence of our monastery, without leaving our cloister, cry out to the world that Jesus is Christ, the Son of the Living God. And the rest of our lives needs to be lived in constant self denial, obedience and charity so that through these things we too may died to our selves, and rise again with Christ. This is what all Christians, not just religious, are called to do. To live their live in such a way that it is the response to this question and thereby get to know God. How great would it be if we all live our lives to answer in the way Peter did. Then, we would see our Beloved Jesus smiling back at us!