Most of the time when our parents are getting older they start losing their memories. They forget the names of the people around them, their neighbors, their friends, and even the names of their children. They have the tendencies to remember only their past experiences. In the past months my mother started to lose her memories. Once in a while I’m calling her, one time when I was talking to her I asked her “Inay kilala nyo pa ako?” (Inay, do you still recognize me?) she smiled and silently stared at my face and she replied “Oo naman…” (yes of course…) Ikaw ang nanay, (you are my mother) My mother cannot remember my name but she knows by heart that something connects us and something special between the two of us.
In the gospel reading today Jesus asks a question to his disciples, “Who do people say that the Son of Man is? (Mt. 16:13) This might be a popular question, a question that they might hear from other people thinking and saying about Jesus. The disciples immediately replied “Some say John the Baptist, others Elijah, still others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.” (Mt. 16: 14) The next question Jesus asked them “But who do you say that I am?” (Mt. 16:15) A question which is like an evaluation on how well they know their teacher. However, this question is not just an inquiry yet a confirmation of personal relationship and experiences between Jesus and his disciple. On behalf of the disciples, Peter answered confidently “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” (Mt.16:16) In Peter’s response for sure Jesus was fully delighted with the answer of Peter. Knowing about a person intimately we must know him personally. It’s hard to ask about a person without any knowledge about him or her. It was a gradual process of the revelation of the Son of Man to Peter. Peter’s awareness of his own intimate relationship with Jesus from the time he was called, when the cock crows until the time he walks with Jesus on the water with his little faith. These scenes revealed to him gradually and nobody could take away from Peter those intimate experiences with Jesus.
Like Blessed Francisco Palau the revelation of the Church was also gradually unveiled to him spending his life in searching and praying. “O Holy Church! For twenty years I was searching for you… I was looking at you and I did not know you, because you were hiding beneath the dark shadows of mystery, of figures of speech, of metaphors, and I could not see you except as a being incomprehensible for me… I revealed myself to you gradually, first of all you saw my body, all its part, my physical… And now I uncover my face, I lay bare my spirit, and show you my heart and my love for you.” (MR III)
Fr. Palau continues his mission when the Church fully uncovers the gray areas of his searching. The more it reveals to him, the more his passion ignites in doing his mission, without losing his union with his beloved.
How about us? Who do we say Jesus is in our lives? As a religious, as an educator, as a believer, how does Jesus’ divine revelation gradually change our life?
Steward of the Kingdom
Peter’s answer awaits a great responsibility, “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.” (Mt 16:18-19) The commissioning of St. Peter was the key holder of the kingdom of God, a steward with a great responsibility given. Jesus confidently gave to Peter the stewardship of heaven knowing his ability and potential leading God’s people. Surely Jesus prepared all his disciples for a responsibility to continue Jesus’ mission and Peter was given the authority to lead all of them. Being a good steward is not only to accomplish what is asked of us, but responding to it with sincerity, with faithfulness and with love. Peter trusted and believed in Jesus that he will be with him until the end of time.
May the courage and confidence of Peter in testifying who is the Son of Man will help us to bear the responsibility given to us with joy, sincerity and faith. Even if we lost sight or our memories we may still recognize Jesus through the memories of our heart.