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Who Do We Say That He Is?

First Reading: Jeremiah 31:31-34

The days are coming, says the LORD,
when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel
and the house of Judah.
It will not be like the covenant I made with their fathers:
the day I took them by the hand
to lead them forth from the land of Egypt;
for they broke my covenant,
and I had to show myself their master, says the LORD.
But this is the covenant that I will make
with the house of Israel after those days, says the LORD.
I will place my law within them, and write it upon their hearts;
I will be their God, and they shall be my people.
No longer will they have need to teach their friends and relatives
how to know the LORD.
All, from least to greatest, shall know me, says the LORD,
for I will forgive their evildoing and remember their sin no more.

Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 51:12-13, 14-15, 18-19

R. (12a) Create a clean heart in me, O God.
A clean heart create for me, O God,
and a steadfast spirit renew within me.
Cast me not out from your presence,
and your Holy Spirit take not from me.
R. Create a clean heart in me, O God.
Give me back the joy of your salvation,
and a willing spirit sustain in me.
I will teach transgressors your ways,
and sinners shall return to you.
R. Create a clean heart in me, O God.
For you are not pleased with sacrifices;
should I offer a burnt offering, you would not accept it.
My sacrifice, O God, is a contrite spirit;
a heart contrite and humbled, O God, you will not spurn.
R. Create a clean heart in me, O God.

Gospel: Matthew 16:13-23

Jesus went into the region of Caesarea Philippi
and he asked his disciples,
“Who do people say that the Son of Man is?”
They replied, “Some say John the Baptist, others Elijah,
still others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.”
He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?”
Simon Peter said in reply,
“You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”
Jesus said to him in reply, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah.
For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my heavenly Father.
And so I say to you, you are Peter,
and upon this rock I will build my Church,
and the gates of the netherworld shall not prevail against it.
I will give you the keys to the Kingdom of heaven.
Whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven;
and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.”
Then he strictly ordered his disciples
to tell no one that he was the Christ.

From that time on, Jesus began to show his disciples
that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer greatly
from the elders, the chief priests, and the scribes,
and be killed and on the third day be raised.
Then Peter took Jesus aside and began to rebuke him,
“God forbid, Lord! No such thing shall ever happen to you.”
He turned and said to Peter,
“Get behind me, Satan! You are an obstacle to me.
You are thinking not as God does, but as human beings do.”

NAB

aug 4

In today’s Gospel, Jesus asks His disciples about who people say that He is. They reply with a litany of the usual suspects. But Christ probes more deeply: “Who do you say that I am?”

Today, I hear Jesus asking each of us the same question: Who do we say that He is?

It’s easy to list off various descriptive titles for Jesus: King of Kings, Lord of Lords, Messiah, Savior, Healer, Friend—yet do we really believe it? More importantly, do we live as if it’s true?

The well-known author G.K. Chesterton said that the longest journey is the distance between our head and our heart. We can know something, yet still hold back. He has serious wisdom in that compact statement for us to consider.

Recently I was blessed to attend a series of talks by Sister Ann Shields. Time and again, she implored us to pray for greater faith. Growing in faith, she said, means putting down roots so deep that no matter what happens, you remain unshaken.

Sister Ann noted that growing in faith isn’t reserved for some moment in the future when we have a minute to spare. It’s for today—it’s for right now. God is on His throne today. Jesus is saving us today. We are His children today. Do we believe?

Maybe we attend Mass weekly, Adoration occasionally, and Confession semi-regularly. Maybe we pray daily or frequently. But do we really know why we are doing these things? Or more importantly, do we personally know the God with Whom we are seeking relationship? And how do we get there? How do we find these answers?

And so I ask, what would your life look like—how would it change—if you truly had the faith to believe that Jesus is Who He says He is?

When we wholeheartedly believe the tenets of the Creed we profess, we have the power to change the world in Jesus’ name.

Let us pray to live out of the fullness of our Catholic faith—not a flimsy faith borne of frustration or fear—but an unshakable faith rooted in the reality that we have a Heavenly Father Who infinitely loves us. Let’s find and believe in those answers to the big questions in our life.

Praise and thank God for the faith you already have and ask Him to increase and strengthen it. Find community to deepen it and talk through questions you might be facing. Spend time with Him in prayer. Read His Word. Frequent the sacraments. Allow your faith to set you free.

photo credit

Heather Renshaw is a writer, speaker, and uplifter on a mission to love and serve God with her husband and five children in the Pacific NW. You can learn more about her here.

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