Saint Stephen's Statue.

ST. STEPHEN'S

CATHOLIC CHURCH

 

12, Gbeto Street, Off Iwaya Road, Onike-Iwaya, Yaba-Lagos.
info@ststepheniwaya.org

Saint Stephen's Building.
 

 WHO ARE YOU LORD?

Peter with Jesus"Christ is my rock, my refuge my stronghold, Firm as the tree roots that clutches the land, He who has faith builds without worry, Not like the man who builds upon sand. I set my house on a solid foundation; Christ is my rock the source of my soul’s recreation." (Sing)

In the gospel, Jesus fully aware of the on-going debate about him and the ignorance of the people about his personality, decided to also know the mind of those close to him – His disciples: “Who do people say I am…and…You, who do you say I am?” We must not distance ourselves from this question today. Rather, we must ask ourselves: “Who is Jesus to me? This is because, it is possible that we have been baptized, received Holy Communion, Confirmed, got married in the church, ordained as a pastor or minister, served, and in fact still serving in the church in different capacities and yet do not know who Jesus is.

Many of us have a distorted view of God, views of God that are distorted because of our background, experiences or perhaps just simply because of our ignorance. So, we do not realize that we are actually worshiping the greatest Deity. Much of our lives and much of our time is spent worshiping a figment of our own imaginations and so, what we fail to realize is that God exists independently of our views of him. God exists as he is regardless of our woeful and inadequate views of him. Our goal as Christians should be to bring our understanding of God in line with the truth of who He really is. So many today, even Christians, think of Jesus as a good man and a good moral teacher, but do not consider Him to be God and Lord. For many, there is a real lack of knowledge about what the Scriptures say of Jesus. If we want to know who Jesus is, we must begin to know the Scriptures.

For the first time in their relationship Peter, speaking for the other disciples, declared publicly: “You are the Christ (Messiah), the Son of the living God.” Peter was the first apostle to recognize Jesus publicly as the Anointed One (also translated Messiah or Christ. Christ is the Greek word for the Hebrew word Messiah). Peter was saying that Jesus is the Christ, the anointed one of God, Immanuel, the Salvation of God -- God who became Man to save sinners! It is evident that Jesus was well pleased with Peter’s answer. Jesus first pronounced a blessing upon Peter, the only disciple in the Gospels to receive a personal blessing. "Blessed are you, Simon son of John!" Next, Jesus confirmed Peter's insight as a special revelation from God. "No mere man has revealed this to you, but my Heavenly Father." However, Jesus was quick to explain to the disciples that he was not a political Messiah. He was, rather, a Messiah who must suffer, die and be raised to life again.

Who is Jesus to you? Jesus is the Son of God and our personal Savior. This means that we have to see Jesus as the Good Shepherd, the Savior, and the Redeemer. He is our beloved friend, closer to us than our dear ones and a living experience, who walks with us, loves us, forges us, helps us and transforms our lives and outlook. We have to give all areas of our lives to him. He must have a say in our daily lives and we must radiate all around us his sacrificial agápe love, unconditional forgiveness, overflowing mercy and committed service. The joy, the love, the peace that we find in Jesus should be reflected in the way we live our lives.

Jesus says to Peter, "...on this Rock I Will build my Church, and the gates of the underworld can never hold out against it..." The image of the rock is, by its very nature, a timeless and everlasting image. That’s why the image of the rock was chosen. That’s how rocks are. They’re there to stay. The image of the rock brings out a quality of some sort of eternal dimension. He holds the keys to the Kingdom of God and the gates of hell will never prevail against it. Do you believe in the everlasting nature of the Church? The Church founded by Jesus Christ is the One true Church, which will last forever because it has Christ as its head.

Furthermore, Jesus’ promise to Peter is the Catholic basis for the position of the Pope and of the Church. The Church teaches that Peter was given the keys which admit a man to Heaven or exclude him from it, and that to Peter was given the power to absolve or not to absolve a man from his sins. In other words, Jesus gave to Peter the authority to determine what courses of action would be permitted or forbidden in the Church. It is further argued by the Catholic Church that this power given to Peter has descended to all the Bishops of Rome throughout all ages, and that it exists today in Pope Francis, who, as the direct successor of Peter, is the head of the Church and the Bishop of Rome.

The Anchor Bible commentary, an Interfaith work (Catholic, Protestant and Jewish scholars), says this: “By conferring the power to bind and loose upon Church leadership, Jesus authorizes it to interpret the Scriptures and establish norms for Christian behaviour (vol. 1).” In this role, Peter was the first to preach Christ, and he did so to three thousand people at Pentecost (Acts 2); he became the spokesman to the Council of Jerusalem (Acts 15). “Bind and loose” also concerns doctrine and ethical conduct, declaring certain actions as either forbidden or permitted. In Mt 18:18, Jesus extends this authority to the whole group of disciples, saying, "Truly I tell you, whatever you bind on earth will be bound in Heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in Heaven." The Catholic Church teaches that by giving Peter the "keys" along with the promise that all his decisions would be ratified in Heaven, in other words, Peter received primacy in the Church and the gift of infallibility in his official teaching on matters of Faith and morals.

However, we must know that the purpose of authority in the Church, of authority at any level, is not to control the lives of others, but rather to help them to seek the values that will bring them lasting joy, both in this changing world and in the next. Also, authority is always to be exercised as a service and in a collegial manner for the building up of the community.

It is curious to note that Jesus introduced Peter to himself saying "You are Rock!” This quality was not, I am quite sure, something that Simon Peter recognized within himself. No doubt it was a big surprise, not only to Peter himself but also to all who knew him. Probably no one would have thought that about him. Nevertheless he was previously known as Simon and now, because of Jesus, he was entering into a new self-identity. It must be said that it took a long time, however, because Peter’s behavior with respect to Jesus was anything but solid and rock-like until after Christ’s resurrection.

All of this was typical of Jesus. Jesus judged differently, He went beyond appearances. We judge people by appearances… Jesus judges with penetrating insight. He went deep inside people and saw the best that was in them. Then He tried to get them to become aware of those wonderful qualities deep within themselves.

St. Augustine once said: “Dig deep enough in any person and you will find something divine.” That’s a perfect description of how Jesus works with us. Put Jesus one-on-one with any person and He will dig until He finds something God-like, something divine, within us. Then He will do everything He can to draw it out of us and into the open. We should also strive to do the same. Do we see the divine in others? That’s what He did with the woman caught in the act of adultery. He saw something in her that was deeper than her sinfulness. He did the same with Zaccheus, Simon the Pharisee and Mathew the tax collector.

We all hear a lot of bad news about ourselves. We all have a little inner voice that constantly gives us bad news about ourselves. People around us sometimes give us bad news about ourselves. Jesus, on the other hand, comes to give us good news. The good news of Jesus Christ is all about who we really are and who we can become. The good news is this: inside each one of us there is the person God meant us to be. Deep within us is the person God our Father knows we can be. Hopefully we will eventually come to see that. There’s an identity, a name that God has given you that is nothing but good.

God is always forgiving, always trusting, always faithful, always loving. We’ve grown cynical and bitter, unloving, cold, and indifferent, if not actually mistrusting of others. Jesus counters by asking us to be like God – to forgive without limit, to trust others no matter how many times they disappoint us, to keep on loving no matter what, to keep on believing in the basic goodness within others no matter how they may appear to us on the surface. We, with Jesus, should always hate the sins of others but love other sinners just as much as God loves them. We need to regard them as He regards you and me.

Ultimately, we have to keep asking ourselves that all important question, "Who is Jesus to you?" Jesus wants to reveal himself to us in more personal ways than we can imagine. He continues to teach us and to enlightenment us. He continues to invite us into his love. We must continually ask Jesus to make himself known to us. Who is Jesus to you? The answer to this question must invariably influence our relationship with God and with others around us.

Prayer - Lord Jesus, I profess and believe that you are the Christ, the Son of the living God. You are my Lord and my Saviour. Make my faith strong like Peter's and give me boldness to speak of you to others that they may come to know you personally as Lord and Saviour and grow in the knowledge of your great love. Amen!!!

 

Calendar

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