21st SUNDAY: THE CONFESSION OF PETER. MT 16:13- 20
Jesus asked His disciples: “Who do people say that I am?” This question was a very easy one for us to answer given our knowledge of Jesus that we have learned from our parents, teachers, church teachings, and other sources. So, the disciples gave an immediate answer: “Some say John the Baptist, others say Elijah and others say Jeremiah or one of the prophets.” The second question was challenging and personal: “Who do you say that I am?” Their answer was based on their personal relationship and experiences with Jesus. Peter gave an immediate answer but other disciples kept silent. Peter said, “You are the Christ.” Peter spoke from his heart and it was very natural and spontaneous; it came from his personal experiences with Jesus. Peter spoke with confidence and courage as he was always eager to jump into any situation. However, on other occasions, his faith waivers and his personal weaknesses overtook him.
Like each of us, Peter had his own moments of confusion, fear, doubt, and even lack of faith; but all these struggles brought him closer to Jesus and made Jesus love him more. Jesus recognized both Peter’s strengths and weaknesses as well as his humanness. That is why Jesus chose Peter to be the head of his church on earth saying, “…and upon this rock, I will build my church!”
Today Jesus is asking each of us the same question: “Who do you say that I am?” What would your answer be? It is easy to talk about others but when it comes to talking or sharing about ourselves, it is usually more difficult. If we want to give real answers to Jesus’ question, we need a deep relationship with Jesus that is only possible by moving out of our comfort zones into places where we take on the crosses of self-denial and self-sacrifice. Places where we are unafraid to show who we really are, places where we are willing to show our weaknesses. The most important thing is the need for personal prayer in our lives that will help us to know who Jesus is for us.
Let me share with you a real-life story of Mother Teresa’s Crisis of Faith which she explained through her personal letters and later recounted in a Time magazine article about Mother Teresa’s Crisis of Faith. St. Mother Teresa’s “years of darkness” “emptiness” and “loneliness” teach us the important life lessons that we can take along in our own life journey of faith and prayer. Mother Teresa struggled with her faith – even doubting whether God really existed. But this shows us that Mother Teresa endured hardships, struggles, and most importantly doubted her faith, just like we do. We wonder – Why did Mother Teresa suffer with so much darkness and misery in her life? Why did not God release such a dedicated, selfless woman from her misery?
As we are aware, God never makes mistakes. God has a master plan and an individual purpose for each of us. However, it took her entire life for Mother Teresa to come to the realization that her suffering was meant to bring her closer to the sufferings that Jesus endured on the cross and the sufferings of the poor she served. Mother Teresa finally realized that her feeling of being abandoned by God only helped her to love God more and serve the poor throughout the darkest moments in her life; she was an inspiration of immense light to others. Mother Teresa’s darkest moments in life give us the lesson that even the holiest persons, the most faithful, and saints struggle in their spiritual lives!
Let us try to be like Peter and Mother Teresa, to have knowledge of Jesus, to have personal experiences with Jesus, and be ready to carry our own crosses in our lives. To carry our own crosses means accepting our own daily lives and challenges and accepting God’s will in our daily lives. We have to carry our own crosses without blaming or complaining. Today, let us take a few moments to pray for someone, who carries a bigger cross than we do!