Only Our Hearts can Answer – Willy Samson, SJ

Matthew 16:13-20, 21st Sunday in Ordinary Time

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In our Gospel reading today, Jesus suddenly asked the disciples two questions. The first one was easy, “Who do people say that I am?” And they answered with ease, “‘Some say John the Baptist, some Elijah, and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.” But the second question was tough. It was more personal and thought-provoking, “Who do you say I am?” Unlike in the first question where everybody answered, here, it was only Peter who had the guts to answer, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” (Matthew 16:16). And Jesus was deeply pleased with Peter’s reply. It was candid and very personal. It came from his heart.

But what’s the context of our Gospel today? What compelled Jesus to ask his disciples their thoughts about him?

To understand our Gospel reading, it is good to note that Jesus just finished feeding the five thousand people (Matthew15: 32-38). Because of the miracle, he enticed hundreds of people to follow him. But sadly, their intention was not to know Jesus, but to benefit from his power and miracles. Some of them wanted healing, some more food to eat and others, personal requests. They were not really interested to know more about Jesus, but what he could give to them.

In this context, Jesus wanted to check his disciples’ intention for following him. Was it for the love of him, or for what he could give to them? Were they in love with Jesus, or in love with his miracles? And the only way to check their motivation was to ask them, “Sino ba ako para sa inyo?”

At this point, it’s good to ask ourselves too, “SINO BA SI HESUS PARA SA AKIN? Anong dahilan ng aking pagsunod sa kanya? Am I following him to know him more clearly, to love him more dearly and to follow him more nearly?” Or “because I want to ask some favors from him?”

It is unfortunate that sometimes we see God as our ATM card or credit card. We come to him in prayer to beg for something. We seek him when things gets tough in our life. But when sunny days come, we tend to forget him. When was the last time we attended a mass or novena, without asking for any material things or favors, but just begging God to reveal himself more to us? I desire to come to Jesus, not to ask for anything but to plead, “LORD, I JUST WANT TO KNOW, LOVE AND SERVE YOU MORE. SHOW ME HOW.”

The first question is easier to answer. Our catechism will tell us that God is a loving and forgiving God, Jesus is our Lord and Savior, and he is the son of Mary. But the second question requires a deeper communion with God. It a question that ONLY OUR HEARTS CAN ANSWER. It is something much more personal and relationship-defining.

Therefore, who is Jesus for you? DON’T THINK. LISTEN TO YOUR HEART. THIS IS NOT A MIND QUESTION BUT A HEART QUESTION. Your answer will reveal the depth and breadth of your relationship with Jesus.

Am I really really really seeking God to know him more or just seeking his favors? Remember the words of Jesus, “Seek first the Kingdom of God, and all these things shall be added unto you.” (Matthew 6:33).

*Image from the Internet

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