But Who Do You Say That I Am?

Mark 8: 27-33
Gn 9:1-13 / Ps 102

. . . you are setting your mind not on divine things but on human things.
(Mark 8:33)

How we always fail to discern
That our Lord’s plans are more sublime.
Why not trust that His main concern
Is our Life for eternal time?

Along the villages of Caesarea Philippi one day, Jesus asked his disciples, ‘Who do people say that I am?’ And they answered him, ‘John the Baptist; and others, Elijah; and still others, one of the prophets.’ He asked them, ‘But who do you say that I am?’ Peter answered Him, ‘You are the Messiah.’ And He sternly ordered them not to tell anyone about Him. Then Jesus told them that He must undergo great suffering, be rejected by the elders, chief priests, and scribes, and be killed, then after three days rise again. At this, Peter took Him aside and began to rebuke Him. But turning and looking at his disciples, He rebuked Peter and said, ‘Get behind me, Satan! For you are setting your mind not on divine things but on human things.’ (Mark 8:27-33)

Reflection

Today’s Gospel gives us an insight into the human nature of St. Peter, which is quite typical among many of us who claim to be followers (or even leaders) of Jesus Christ. We blow hot, we blow cold, and the words we speak can get us into trouble. In one moment, we can be so inspired by the Holy Spirit that we come up with the right answer, but in the next moment, we can be so filled with ourselves that we blurt out the dumbest things like St. Peter, who earned the sternest rebuke from the Master.

In one momentous incident, in the heights of Caesaria Philippi, the Holy Spirit came upon St. Peter, and he answered Jesus’ question perfectly: “You are the Messiah.” In the version of Matthew’s Gospel, Jesus commended him, saying “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for flesh and blood did not reveal this to you, but my heavenly Father.” (Mt.16:17) And yet, when Jesus started to lay out the Father’s plan for Him in the days ahead, St. Peter reverted to his human instincts, and refused to accept what seemed to him such a foolhardy course to take.

There are important lessons that we can learn in today’s Gospel. First, our human knowledge is inadequate to discern spiritual truth; only God’s indwelling Spirit can give that wisdom. Jesus said, “The Spirit gives life; the flesh counts for nothing. The words I have spoken to you are spirit and they are life.” (Jn. 6:63) Second, we must put our full trust in God, no matter how unreasonable His terms may seem to be. We must strive for the faith of Abraham as our model. He obeyed God to kill his only son Isaac as a sacrifice, even if he was already too old to sire another child. Finally, who Jesus Christ is in our life will determine the kind of person that we want to become. If we accept Him as our life here and now, then He will be our ultimate destination. If we make Him the ideal of what we want to be, then His Divine Entity will occupy our minds and hearts, and will be the core of our being for all time.

Father God, you have given us a clear picture of Your purpose for us, which is to receive Jesus as our Savior. Through Your Holy Spirit, our hearts and minds have been illumined to receive His Truth, which has given our life its purpose. Amen.

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