Gospel Mt 16:13-20
Jesus went into the region of Caesarea Philippi and
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 Christ, 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 Christ.
Our teenage years tend to be very important ones for our social development and identity formation. We may start to distance ourselves from our family identity and start to explore more fully who we are in our group of friends. As we grow and mature, our families will give us more responsibility and room to grow into our own identity. How our classmates, teammates and friends see us tends to become more and more important. As we gain more freedom from our family, it can be both exhilarating and frightening to realize that we have control over who we are and who we want to become. The people we choose to date and spend time with can influence who we become.
This Gospel story presents a beautiful, vulnerable and powerful moment between two friends. Jesus asks his friends, “Who do you say that I am?” Simon Peter sees Jesus for who he is, the Christ, and speaks it clearly to Jesus. At this point in Jesus’ ministry, there is a lot of rumors and gossip surrounding him. He has shown his power, which has angered some and inspired others. He has quite a following, dodging crowds at every turn. In the midst of this pressure, he finds grounding in his closest friends. Peter’s response is so true that Jesus in turn reminds Peter who he is and who he will become for the church.
For a time in high school, I started giving in to the pressure to be thin. I started eating less and exercising more. One day, my two best friends cornered me in the lunchroom and said, “You are not being healthy. You are beautiful and powerful, and you need to eat.” That reminder of who I was in their eyes was enough to snap me out of the madness I had gotten myself into. It was a beautiful, vulnerable and powerful moment between friends. I was so grateful.
It is important in life to have people who really see you. When times get tough and peer pressure increases, these trusted friends can remind you who you are and who you are becoming. They can ground you in the goodness that God has in store for you. In turn, you have the power to remind your friends how you see them and what they are capable of. You can be the rock in your group of friends who speaks truth.
Who do your parents say that you are?
Who do your teachers say that you are?
Who do your friends say that you are?
Who in your life reminds you and challenges you to be the best version of yourself?