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.
“But who do you say that I am?,” Jesus asked His apostles, after the incident of the apostles seeing Him walk on the stormy Sea of Galilee, and rescuing Peter who walked toward Jesus but faltered and began sinking.
That incident was preceded in Matthew of Jesus:
- Multiplying five loaves of bread and two fish into such abundance that a “vast crowd” of “five thousand men, not counting women and children” were fed (Matthew 14).
- Healing a man with a withered hand, and exorcising a blind and mute man (Matthew 12).
- Raising Jairius’ daughter from the dead; healing a paralytic, a bleeding woman, and two blind men; and exorcising a mute (Matthew 9).
- Healing a leper, the centurion’s servant and Peter’s mother-in-law, and three exorcisms (Matthew 8).
All those miracles convinced Simon Peter, when asked by Jesus, “Who do you say that I am?,” to reply: “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”
But even after he had attested to his belief, Peter still faltered when Jesus was arrested and taken away by Roman soldiers, and denied three times he even knew Jesus. Peter, who had witnessed countless miracles, including being personally saved from drowning in the stormy sea by Jesus, who was walking on water. And still, at a time when Jesus needed His friends the most, Peter denied even knowing Him — three times.
That is why, although we can come to a belief in God (St. Thomas Aquinas’ “first cause”; the intricacies and beauty of creation) and in Jesus as the Son of God (miracles, the Resurrection, the Shroud of Turin, the Apostles as percipient witnesses) through reason, reason can only take us so far.
There is a point that requires faith, where we make the leap across the gap — a gap that for some can be as deep as a cavern.
That moment, when we are touched by the gift of faith — for it is a gift — is different for each of us.
Mine came when — being reawaken after many years of being away from God and the Church in which I had been baptized when I was four — one day at Mass, while watching the faithful go up, one by one, to receive the Holy Eucharist, this thought came into my head like a streak of lightning:
“God must love you for putting up with you all these years.”
At that, every remaining doubt melted away. And I was home, at last.
What was your moment when you were given the gift of faith?
For by grace you are saved through faith,
and that not of yourselves,
for it is the gift of God.
Jesus, I love You with my whole heart, my whole soul, my whole mind, and with all my strength.
May the love and peace of Jesus Christ our Lord be with you,