At some point in all our lives, each of us needs to ask ourselves the all-important question from Christ that is recorded in Matthew 16:13-15:
When Jesus came to the neighborhood of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples this question: “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?” they replied, “Some say John the Baptizer, others Elijah, still others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.” “And you,” he said to them, “who do you say that I am?”
Notice that Jesus checked on the gossip first. Would his apostles be affected by peer pressure? Would they be swayed by popular opinion, or would they decide for themselves?
Christ, in His wisdom, might also have been easing them into discussing their own opinions knowing that they were likely too afraid to answer with their own thoughts, like students afraid to get it wrong. It is also possible that, despite having spent much time listening to Jesus, the apostles still didn’t know what to make of Him at all.
Every one of us is in the same position. We have to decide who Jesus is because it affects everything we are and all that we do. If we answer as Peter did in Matthew 16:16, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God!” then we have accepted Christianity as the true path to God.
Also, we should ask ourselves that question anew each day to maintain and strengthen our commitment. Some days there will be doubt. Some days we just won’t know. The more we question, though, the more we will think and reason and ultimately stoke the fire of love for our Savior.
That kind of passion is needed for the most important mission of our times: evangelization. We need to go forth and ask: “Who do you say that Jesus is?”
What is Jesus to our most secular generation?
As mentioned in a previous blog (https://www.patheos.com/blogs/musingsfromthepew/2021/08/why-do-we-need-church-guidance-because-no-one-knows-it-all/), the latest generation is the most secular in American society. It is not only that they have chosen no religion, but also that many were not raised with any religion.
So their exposure is often limited to the ridicule of religion found in the media or to bits and pieces about Mohammed, Confucius and Jesus or to fashionable cults touted by celebrities. For them, asking “Who is Jesus?” is a matter of mere identification.
This is where we Christians come in. We might continue the inquiry with a series of questions: Was Jesus just a great teacher? Was he a type of Marxist revolutionary? Was he a prophet as claimed by Jews of his time and Muslims today? Did He exist at all or is Jesus just another epic hero of fiction?
Then comes the bonus question: “What if Jesus really is the Son of God? Some will ask that question and come to Jesus on their own, but some need for us to be there to bear witness. If we help them to discover the divinity and humanity of Jesus Christ, then they too will answer as Peter did.
Staying on the Path
Bringing this quest to its conclusion, once you answer the “Who Am I?” question with “the Son of God,” you have to answer the question “Which is his church?”
Immediately after Peter makes his declaration of faith, Matthew 16 continues (verses 18-19) with Christ appointing Peter to be the rock on which He would build His church, and He gave Peter the keys to the kingdom.
So the logical path to follow, the one that to me is as obvious as the yellow brick road, is that of the transfer of those keys from one pope to another ever since. Thus, if you have successfully pursued a quest to find the Christ, you should then follow Him into His church, the Catholic Church.