Pope Francis on Sunday asked the question, “Who is Jesus for each one of us?” Speaking to the thousands of pilgrims and visitors gathered in St Peter’s Square for his Angelus address, the Pope reflected on the reading from St Luke’s Gospel where Jesus asks the disciples, “Who do the crowds say that I am?” The disciples reply “John the Baptist”, or “Elijah” or “one of the ancient prophets”.
The Pope noted that people respected Jesus as a great prophet but they were not yet aware of his true identity as the Messiah, the Son of God sent by the Father for the salvation of all.
Jesus then asks his disciples directly, “But who do you say that I am?” and Peter immediately replies on behalf of them all, “The Christ of God”. In this way, Pope Francis said, Jesus realized that the twelve apostles, and Peter in particular, Francis said, Jesus realized that the twelve apostles, and Peter in particular, had received the gift of faith from God, enabling him to begin to speak openly about his suffering, death and Resurrection which will take place in Jerusalem.
Those same questions, the Pope said, are asked of us today: “Who is Jesus for the people of our day?” And more importantly, “Who is Jesus for each one of us?” We are called, he said, to respond like Peter, professing with joy that Jesus is the Son of God, the eternal Word of the Father who became man in order to redeem humanity and bestows on us the abundance of His divine mercy.
Many people, the Pope said, feel a void around and inside them, while others live in fear and anxiety because of uncertainty and conflict. Only in Christ, he said, is it possible to find true peace and fulfillment of all our aspirations.
Finally the Pope noted that Jesus tells his disciples, ““If anyone wishes to come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me”. This is not an ornamental or an ideological cross, he said, but it is the cross of our daily lives and the sacrifices we make for the sake of others, parents, children, families, friends and even our enemies. It is the cross of solidarity with the poor, he said, of our commitment to justice and peace.
Let us remember all those people, the Pope concluded, who put into practice these words of Jesus, offering their time and their work, their efforts and even their lives in order not to deny their faith in Christ. Jesus, through the Holy Spirit, he said, will give us the strength to continue on our journey of faith and to bear witness to Him.