"It is better and more profitable to be simple and less well educated but close to God through charity than to appear wise and gifted but to blaspheme the Master." - St. Irenaeus
Gospel text (Mt 16,13-19):
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 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.”
What is meant by this Gospel? Does it echo the three denials right before Jesus' Passion, death, and resurrection? Maybe. But I like to interpret this Gospel from an applied personal perspective.
Let us place ourselves in the shoes of Simon Peter. Our Savior, our Messiah, approaches us and asks us, ‘Do you love me?’ Knowing myself—right here, right now—I would immediately answer, ‘yes’. And quite frankly, I think we all would. Even Simon Peter. But does that “yes” come from the deep sincerity of our hearts, or is it just “the right answer”? To solve this dilemma, Jesus tells us, ‘if you truly mean what you say, then feed my sheep’.
Taking this situation and applying it to my daily life, I—like many—say that I am a Christian: I wear a cross necklace, I say grace in public, I wear shirts blazoned with J-E-S-U-I-T on the front and back, and so on and so forth. So I talk the talk, but do I walk the walk; do I live by what those icons represent? In the scheme of things, a cross around my neck is nice, but it only scrapes the surface of spirituality. If I truly live by that cross, that means I must be open to how God calls me, no matter how bizarre I may find it.
Daily, Jesus calls us to feed his sheep; God calls us to prove our devotion to him by living out his everlasting love. More times than not, I think that the feeding of the sheep are small acts of simple kindness that we often overlook. We think that to impress God, we have to complete some crazy, mystical act of complexity with smoke, lights, and the whole nine yards. But the opposite is true. God would rather we live in such a way that our everyday actions revolve around lending a hand and spreading the love he gave us. He is asking for us to contribute what little we have into making a significant difference.
We have no idea as to when and how God calls us. Sometimes we may even laugh at the notion, for we feel that the door opened for us is too ‘out there’ to safely enter. But faith, like many aspects of life, requires taking risks. We need to simply 'let go and let God.'