Peter’s response moves Christ, who gives him the authority of the community of the twelve apostles and the Church. Peter’s confession is necessary, it marks a decisive date in humanity, I mean the foundation of the Church by Christ, the true God and, as Peter says, “The Son of the living God” and the papacy is part of the truths of faith of the baptized, faith in the divinity of Jesus Christ and faith in the divinity of the Church.
Christ’s contemporaries were expecting a Messiah who would restore Israel’s prestige and submit it all to the world by force of arms, as I said, to Israel. But Christ invites them to overcome themselves, not to overcome anyone, not to let themselves be carried away by the passions and defects that dominate us. Christ invites them to practice charity, justice, mercy, peace of heart, as our Founder says, repentance, forgiveness. These words are very hard for the disciples.
To Christ’s question: “What do people say? Who is the Son of Man?” The disciples tell what they have heard. Some thought it was John the Baptist, some thought it was Elijah, some thought it was Jeremiah. But no one designates him as the Messiah, but Christ asks the more precise question: “And who do you say I am?” Peter is the first to respond: “You are the Christ!” that is, the Messiah. His faith did not waver for a moment, and Peter continued: “You are the Son of the living God”.
Some scholars have tried to diminish the scope of Peter’s profession of faith, but these interpretations are not consistent with Christ’s response to Peter: “Blessed are you, Simon Bar Gona, for it is not flesh and blood that has revealed this to you, but my Father in heaven!”
If the expression “Son of God” had been no more than a metaphor, it would have needed no supernatural inspiration, but Jesus claims that his Father in heaven could actually inspire it, so Peter affirms Christ’s divine filiation to his Father in heaven. Later, Christ says that no one knows the Father except the Son and to whom the Son wants to reveal Him. Therefore Christ had the power, as God, as Peter said, to forgive sins and to give Peter this power. That’s why the Jews were looking harder than ever to kill him. That is why Caiaphas asks Christ, are you the Son of the Blessed? Christ answers: “I am!” and they condemn him to death.
Peter, inspired from on high, formulated the first absolute act of faith in the true God, who clothed himself with our humanity, but who is Christ for us Christians? In dying, Christ took first place in history. There was not a name more pronounced in history than his and, of course, one does not hate the dead, one hates the living, and Christ is alive because he has risen. He said, “Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away.
I want to end with Christ’s question to his disciples: “Who am I to you?” That is: “Who is Christ to you who are listening to me and to me who am speaking to you at this moment?
Christ fights so that the sadness in you and me disappears, so that it disappears from the heart of the human being forever. Christ is love and he fights with us so that depression, bitterness, discouragement and despair disappear from our hearts too. It is that Christ, he himself has said: “I am the way, the truth and the life” and the life is the light of men, and the light always shines in the darkness. Christ is the true light that illuminates all human beings.
Christ gives us the grace to be holy as our Heavenly Father is holy and Christ asks us all, and asks his Father to lead us to union with him. “May they all be one, as you Father in me and I in you, may they be one in us.” What are we to fear? St. Paul says it clearly: “Let us not be afraid, Christ is with us!”
P. Jesús Fernández Hernández
President of Idente Missionaries