Au In the beginning was the Word

The question of Jesus to his disciples does not stop resonating for twenty centuries. It is directed at all men and reaches us: And you, who do you say that I am?  This question only can be answered from a present-day experience of faith, in which the confession of faith of the newborn Church returns: Only One God and only one Lord.

 One can be Catholic all one’s life and, nevertheless, not distinguish God the Father from Christ. One can be Jewish (or Muslim) and have a living experience of God, but not know how to deal with Christ; in most cases he would be an envoy of God, just another prophet. One can know very clearly that Jesus is the Lord, but not understand that Resurrected Lord is "the first-born among many brothers" (Rm 8,29), the fruit of a great harvest (1 Co 15,20). One can discover that "the dead are resurrected" (Lk 20,37), but forget that Jesus is the Lord, the Christ.

One can ask Christ for a sign, as did the Pharisees and Sadducees (Mt 16,1), representatives of the official religion, but be unable to discern the signs of the present time (16,3), the signs of the Kingdom of God. However, anyone can discern them, as one can predict approaching weather. Evil and adulterous generation!  A sign is requested but the only one given is the sign of Jonah (16,4), the call to conversion, the announcement of the final day.

One can be a disciple of Jesus and forget the signs. The disciples have to be alert, open their eyes and beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducees that ferments in the dough. They have to beware of the doctrine of the representatives of the official religion, that infects and causes much damage (16,6.12).  The disciples have seen the signs (for example, the multiplication of the bread that appear on sharing), but they forget them.  This is a way to become unable to live the gospel.

When Jesus went into the region of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples:  Who do you say the people who are the son of the man?  They replied, “Some say John the Baptist; others Elijah, still others Jeremiah or one of the prophets (16,13-14).” That is, people perceive him as an envoy of God, a prophet. Perhaps some tend towards reincarnation: a prophet who has returned to life.

 Jesus said to them, “But who do you said that I am?”  Simon Peter replied, “You are the Messiah, 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 (16,15-17). The Christian community is based on the confession of Christ. And this does not come to us from flesh and blood, it does not come from family nor ancestry, each one of us needs God to tell us: Who is Jesus of Nazareth? 

The experience of Christ affects the deepest sense of life. Peter’s acquires an unexpected sense: “And I say to you that you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell 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 (16,18)”. The Church is built on Peter’s confession of faith. And there is nothing (hell, inferno, evil, death) that can destroy the community that can prevail over the Church.  The power to bind and loosen (power to judge) that is given to Peter, does not justify any abuse on his part. His mission is tied to the word of Christ, who (always in present) builds the Church.

 Then he said to his disciples not to tell anyone that he was the Christ (16,20).  How can this be? Jesus tells them to be silent about what they must announce to the world (Acts 2,36). Evidently, Jesus runs a risk. The Messiah, the Christ, the anointed one of God, the awaited one, can be misunderstood, in a nationalistic sense. It is a burning issue. The gospel of Jesus does not give shelter to any nationalism. We must reinterpret for ourselves what Christ meant.

 From that time on, Jesus began to show his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer greatly from the elders, the chief priests and the scribes, be killed and on the third day be raised (16,21). For Jesus the conflict with the three groups that compose Sanhedrin is inevitable: the old ones, the high priests and the scribes.  But death, evil, hell have a limited scope:  they kill the body, but can do more (Lk 12.4).

 Nevertheless, Peter believes that a triumphant Christ is still possible and he does not want to hear of a suffering Christ. Even, with an air of superiority, Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him, “God forbid, Lord! No such thing shall ever happen to you!”  But he turned and said to Peter: “Get behind me, Satan! You are an obstacle to me. You are thinking not as God does, but as human beings do. “(Mt 16,22-23).

Then Jesus said to his disciples,  “Whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself, take up his cross and follow me. For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. What profit would there be for one to gain the whole world and forfeit his life?  Or what can one give in exchange for his life? (16,24-26).”  In the pursuit of Christ or the rejection, it is one’s own life that is at stake.

A trial is in process: “For the Son of Man will come with his angels in his Father’s glory, and then he will repay everyone one according to his conduct.  I say to you, there are some standing here who will not taste death until they see the son of man coming in his kingdom” (16,27-28).  This is something that is happening already. 

·                    In the chapters that follow, we consider what Christ means in our experience of faith.  For that reason, we ask:  For us who is Jesus Christ?  (Chapt. 12).

·                    We approach the origins of Jesus from the present experience of faith.  We contemplated his humanity, truly tied to ours, as well as his transcendence, whose deeper origin is hidden in the mystery of God (Chapt. 13). 

·                    We cannot approach Christ today without his Word, of what he said and did, of his teaching, action, and mission.  It all began in Galilea.  Also, we cannot approach the historical Jesus without what today is with us (Chapt. 14).  As complimentary chapters: The Mission of the Twelve, The Smallest Commandments.

·                     The mystery of Easter signals the existence of Jesus and the existence of the disciple.  As San Pablo says, we announce Christ crucified (1 Co 1.23).  Jesus lives his passion and death as a baptism (Lk 12.50), as an exodus, as a passage from this world to the Father (Chapt. 15).  Complementary subjects:  Put Away the Sword, He is Not Here, He Has Risen.


·                    Easter is not what it once was.  We must recover it.  Easter today celebrates the passage of Jesus among of us as Lord of history:  he comes to save us (Chapt. 16). 

·                    From faith experience, we consider who is Jesus of Nazareth.  We contemplate his personality from diverse angles: the facts of his identity, what non-Christian sources say, “ what his followers say, what Jesus says about himself, what the newborn church tells us (Chapt. 17). 

·                    The gift of the Spirit is an experience that bursts forth in abundance as fruit of the resurrection of Christ.  As Pedro says, "that which you are seeing and hearing" is the glorification of Jesus by God, the fulfillment of his Word (Chapt. 18).  Complementary subject:  Immersed in the Spirit. 

·                    No one has ever seen God; the only son, who is at the Father’s side, has revealed him. (Jn 1.18).  Jesus presents to us the true face God (Chapt.19). 

·                    Initiating prayer and teaching how to pray (Lk 11.1), is part of the evangelization process. In reality, we do not know how to pray.  We lack the words. We can pray with the psalms, as in the first communities, in the spirit of Jesus:  Our Father (Chapt. 20). 

·                    Listening to the Word and through the gift of the Spirit, we can  understand the relation of Jesus with God: No one knows the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son wishes to reveal him (Mt  11.27), through him and others we have access to the Father in one spirit (Ef 2,18) (Chapt. 21).