REFLECTION | ‘I will serve you the keys of the Kingdom of Heaven’

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Virgin mother and the child Jesus image at Taal Basilica, Asia's largest Catholic church. File photo by Bernard Testa/InterAksyon.

When Jesus went into the region of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?”

They replied, “Some say John the Baptist, others Elijah, still others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.” He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” Simon Peter said in reply, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.”

Jesus said to him in reply, “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.”

Then he strictly ordered his disciples to tell no one that he was the Messiah.
—Matthew 16: 13-20

It is very important to know who we believe and follow. How well do you know your master? How well do you know your master, your teacher? The gospel reading is a test for all the followers of Jesus when he asked them: “Who do people say the Son of Man is?”

The question was to know how convinced and committed they were in following him? Jesus wanted to know if his disciples had already learned from his preaching and teachings and if they have really accepted who he is.

The disciples answered Jesus based from what they also heard from people; that he may be John the Baptist who came back to life, or Elijah or Jeremiah or one of the prophets. But Peter responded: “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.”

It was a declaration of faith. Did Peter fully know who his master was? And Jesus quickly told Peter that his heavenly Father had revealed this to him, that he was able to recognize him not on his own but through God his father.

What if Jesus asked us the question today? Who do you think the Son of Man is? Are you convinced that Jesus is the Messiah, the savior of the world? Do you really believe that Jesus is the son of God the Father who became man like us and who lived with us?

We always profess our faith through the Creed that we recite in the Sunday Mass and in our devotional prayers. And during Easter Vigil, every Catholic who believes in the God is asked to renew his/ her baptismal promises, proclaiming and professing Jesus as the only begotten son of the Father, true man and true God, who proceeds from the Father, and with the Holy Spirit.

Have you not asked why Peter gave such a declaration when asked? Peter had been guided and inspired by God. We all know that Peter was one of the first disciples invited by Jesus along the lake when he was fixing his net. One will know if the master is authentic and real when the master leads his followers to the right way. As the Father had revealed to Peter about his master’s identity, Jesus gave Peter the big responsibility of building the church on rock. The Church that is from God—the Father, Jesus His Son, and the Holy Spirit.

Three persons but only one. The Church founded on solid rock so that the Church would continue Jesus’ mission even if he has gone back to his Father. Peter and the other disciples were entrusted the responsibility and given tasks on what they should do, the mission continues. The authority was given to Peter through the keys that Jesus had symbolically given them. The keys are the tasks and responsibilities entrusted to his disciples so Jesus’ saving work will reach to all corners of the world. The mission of Jesus is unfinished that is why from generation to generation it has been passed over. The followers of Jesus today must n must take the mission heartily and committedly in faith, hope and love.

Only when we recognize Jesus truly can we claim that we are able to take the mission. We can fulfill the tasks given to us when we affirm that Jesus is Lord like what Peter had declared. We can only do God’s works when Jesus becomes our savior, our light, our path, our life.

Let us pray, reflect and ask ourselves:

Who is God to me? Is Jesus truly my savior?

Do I recognize God’s revelation in the Scriptures, in the Living Traditions and in the Teachings of the Church?

Do I accept God as the source of life and all good? Does God reign in my heart right now?

Am I responsible and committed to continue the mission of Jesus here on earth, thus, involving and actively participating in the Church’s ministries and programs?

Prayer
Almighty and Ever-living God, open our eyes to see you and our hearts to recognize and welcome you in our lives. May we be like Peter who stood and declared for Jesus. May we receive the Holy Spirit dearly in our daily lives so that the Father will continue to reveal to us truth and life. We pray for our enlightenment and strength every moment of our lives so we can love you and serve you. This we ask through Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever. Amen.

Intentions
Let us pray for those whom we had promised to pray for, may the Lord listen to their prayers and grant their intentions. Let us pray for peace, especially in war- torn countries and in our country, especially in Marawi, may all the people recognize God’s goodness and peace in every human person and in the whole creation.