From the gospel story, it seems that Jesus is not really concerned about what people think. It looks like his question was just an introduction, an excuse that would lead to the really important question. Jesus does not react to any of the answers given, but goes straight to the point: “But,” he tells them, “who do you say that I am?” In his relationship with his close friends, this is what really matters for Jesus. “Who am I for you?” Come to think of it, we can say that this is a lover’s question. We can imagine two people who are really in love and asking each other: Who am I for you? What do you think of me? What difference do I make in your life? Anything else doesn’t really matter!
Our faith, our religion, is nothing more than our relationship with Christ. Everything that Jesus did was an expression of God’s love for us. That’s why he came to Earth; that’s why he healed, thought and eventually gave up his life. Given this great love, no wonder he makes the same question to each and every one of us: Who am I for you? What difference do I make in your life? We all have been taught many things about Jesus in our catechism classes, by our parents and grandparents, in school and at church. All of that is true, and must have helped us as we grew into getting to know him and entering in a personal relationship with him. What really matters to me now however, as an adult Christian, is who is Jesus for me? What difference does he make in my life?
Identifying who is Jesus for me will, then, help me understand better my identity as a Christian, as a follower of his. Once Peter acknowledged Jesus for who he really was (aided, as Jesus told him, by divine revelation) he immediately came to know what was Jesus’ dream for him. Peter becomes the rock on which Jesus was to build his Church. This does not make him perfect. On the contrary, we won’t have to wait long until we see Peter messing up (just wait for next Sunday!). And then we all know what happened during the passion of Jesus. But he’s on the right track, he learns from and grows through his mistakes, and his relationship with Jesus continues to grow stronger.
Like Peter, we all have a mission in life. In different ways, depending on what God’s dream for us is, we all share in the mission of Jesus of building his Church. Basically, this is nothing more than helping others come to experience God’s love for them, helping them understand that there is a God who loves and who cares for them.