Aim: To know and follow Jesus, as he is, and not as we would want him to be.
Who do you say that I am? (Mt 16:13-17.21): When Jesus came into the district of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?” And they said, “Some say John the Baptist, but others Elijah, and still others Jeremiah or one of the prophets”. He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” Simon Peter answered, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God”. And Jesus answered him, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father in heaven” […] From that time on Jesus began to show his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and undergo great sufferings.
Jesus praises Peter for his answer, but our suspicion is that, at the back of his mind, Peter – like many others – is entertaining the idea that the “Messiah, the Son of the living God”, is to be someone powerful in words and deeds, in the likeness of the kings and prophets of the Old Testament. Perhaps he is thinking of Jesus as a new Moses, who has finally come to liberate the people of Israel from the political bondage established by the Romans.
Peter is ready – at least verbally – to take up the role of the soldier and to follow the orders he would receive from the Messiah. But this is not what Jesus wants from him; neither is he what Peter thinks of him.
Jesus wants to make friends – not soldiers – with his disciples. He wants to transform the lives of people, not by means of weapons, but through sentiments born out of authentic human friendship. He wants to speak to humanity with his heart, not with a sword. For this reason, he asks his disciples to “stay with him” (cf. Jn 1:39) and to listen to him, in order to learn from him the art of true gentleness, mercy, compassion and love. This is a non-negotiable condition to be his disciples.
Moreover, Jesus knows that his way of doing mission will cause him sufferings. It is the consequence of love to which he constantly draws the attention of his disciples: “If you want to be my disciple, take up your cross and follow me” to Jerusalem (cf. Mt 16: 24).
Personal Reflection and Sharing
At this stage of my process, what more have I understood about Jesus?
What more have I understood about being Jesus’ disciple? What does it imply to me, concretely?