Almost 2000 years ago Jesus gave us our life’s mission. As He was ready to ascend to heaven he told the apostles, and us, to ‘Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, until the end of the age.’ We have been given an apostolate, at that point we became apostles.
Every Catholic has the same apostolate. We might have different ministries – the two are not the same. Bishops, priests and deacons are Ordinary Ministers. Lay faithful can participate in ministries of all kinds: Pastoral Care, Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion, Liturgical Ministers and on and on. By the way, the Eucharistic Minister at this Mass is the priest. But regardless of our ministries we are all, everyone in the Catholic Church, apostles. We are called in our varying ways to go and put to actions Christ’s great commission.
But to be effective in our apostolate we need to live what we are preaching. Our understanding, though not total, needs to be deep-felt and earnest. If we are to proclaim Christ’s message we need be aware of the most important aspect of His message. This is where Christ’s great question to us in today’s Gospel is important. ‘But who do you say that I am?’
Brothers and sisters, Christ asks each of us ‘Who do you say that I am?’ Christ wants to know who we understand Him to be. Not platitudes or rote memorized answers we have learned from Holy Mother Church. Our answer to His questions is the answer deep within our heart, how do we truly understand Christ in lives. What is deep within us determines how affective we will be in our apostolate. If He isn’t the most important friend in our lives then our message will be weak, stale and unbelievable. If Christ isn’t the central focus our lives then our vision that we give to those around will be cloudy, murky and unconvincing. Faith isn’t a cultural affectation it is a way of life.
But we need help, our understanding of who Christ is comes first from God Himself. God gives us lessons, and knowledge about Himself and His plan for us. Contrary to the common understanding of today’ Gospel Christ’s first question isn’t ‘Who do the people believe I am’ it is “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?” Christ is asking His apostles what do people expect the Messiah to be. And then after He hears some answers (off the mark of course) He then pushes the disciples to find the answer in their hearts that He is the messiah. St Peter’s profound answer is given to him from God the Father – God is teaching us.
God is always there, waiting to help us with wisdom and knowledge we just need to connect with Him and allow His omnipotence to work within us. We need to live the life of faith to be able to gain the insight from God to allow us to live the apostolic life we were meant for. To do this we need to pray as well as submit to those learned and wise people of faith to show us the path. When, in humility we offer ourselves; our intellect and soul, to God’s divine plan we, deep down come to understand who Christ is to us and to the world.
With this desire for true understanding and this trusting submission to God’s plan we can be as profound as St. Peter’s answer. It is my hope that when someone comes up to us and asks ‘Who do say that Christ is?’ Our answer will be obvious to them from our lives, He is my reason for life and for living; and our very beings will echo what St. Paul wrote to the Romans ‘For from him and through him and for him are all things. To him be glory forever. Amen.