We are remembering September 11. Still it is alive in everyone’s mind, isn’t it? Especially it becomes more alive as we remember the faces of the thirteen Fallen in Afghanistan. Let us try to imagine we were on the ground running to save our lives or running to someone else. What will be our mental and emotional condition? It is hard to explain, isn’t it? Today we remember all those who died on that day, all those who did heroic actions to save the lives of many. Let us pray for them.
This weekends readings reminds us about sacrificial love. The first reading is the third of the four “Servant of the Lord” oracle. Three other passages that have been popularly called “servant of the Lord” are: 42:1-4, 49:11-7, 52:13-53:12. The servant gave his back to those who struck him, and willingly submitted to insults and beating. The servant declares his innocence, but he takes everything like a well-trained disciple. We see in the Gospel of Matthew 12:18-21, a quote from book Isaiah 42:1-4, the servant of the Lord. It shows that these servant of the Lord poems are fulfilled in Jesus. The first reading leads us to the Gospel, where we meet Jesus, the suffering servant.
In the Gospel we see there are three different faces in the Gospel reading for today: 1. Jesus asked the disciples a question, “Who do you say I am?” 2. Jesus told them that the Son of Man must suffer greatly and finally, he said to the people and disciples, those who want to follow him must take up the cross and follow him.
Jesus went with his disciples to Caesarea Philippi and asked them a question: “Who do the men say that I am?” They had all kinds of popular answers. Then Jesus turns to them and asked, “But who do you say that I am?” Why did Jesus choose this Caesarea Philippi to ask this question? Caesarea Philippi is situated about twenty miles north of the Sea of Galilee and this territory was ruled by Philippi. There was a temple dedicated to Caesar Augustus. Here Jesus asks them these questions. Here Peter makes the profession of faith, “You are the Christ.” Today, this question is for us, who do I say that Jesus is? The search for Jesus continues. Historians will have one answer, artists may have another, but who is Jesus for you and I?
Even though Peter made his profession of faith, he failed to accept the suffering servant, Christ. Jesus says, “the Son of Man must suffer greatly.” The son of man alludes the royal figure described in the book of Daniel 7:13-14. Jesus is associated with this title especially with his passion. Jesus came to this world to offer as a sacrifice, to die on the Cross. It is the answer for the question: who is Jesus? In history people asked this same question and again and again and searched for him. Jesus tells all those who are searching for him, I am Christ, the anointed one who liberates you. Jesus suffered because he really loved us.
Chris Stefanick tells a story of an earthquake in Armenia in 1988. Three thousand people died in four minutes. One school totally collapsed, everyone made an assumption that no one was alive. But one father started to move stones one after another. At the beginning other people helped him and after a while everybody left him and started to mock him. After thirty eight hours he himself with bloody hands moved a stone and he saw his son and his friends alive. The first thing his son told him, I knew you would come dad. The Father sent his Son in search of us. Then he offered himself on the Cross for us. He invites us to carry our cross and follow him. Who is Jesus? Let us answer that question.