Earlier this week, I made my profession of faith, my promise of fidelity to God and to the Church as I approach the Sacred Ordination to the Priesthood. I realized how really big a promise it is that I felt so small and unworthy in making those promises. As I made those promises I prayed that God would really help me to be faithful to my promise because I know I am a frail human person. I am weak. I often ask God: ‘Who am I Lord? I am not worthy of this calling.’ However, I realized that it is not an issue of being worthy or not for only God knows whether I am. What made me confident in making those promises is that I know and firmly believe that Jesus invited me to follow him more closely, intimately and in a more special way by becoming a priest, because of his great love for me.
St Peter in our gospel today would have also the same feeling of unworthiness when Jesus made him the ‘rock’ upon whom he would build his Church. Peter could have said: ‘Lord, I am not worthy, you know me inside and out!’ I can imagine him saying to Jesus: ‘Remember, you called me ‘satan’, a stumbling block one time for not understanding well of your mission? You also called me ‘man of little faith’ when I turned my gaze away from you and got distracted by the wind as I walked on the water to you. You have seen as well that I got carried away by my emotions at times. I proposed tents would be pitched at Mt Tabor because I don’t want my transfiguration experience to end. Out of anger, I drew my sword and cut one of the soldier’s ears in Gethsemane. More so I denied knowing you three times because I was scared. No Lord, I am not worthy of this work, give it to someone else.’
In a glance, we can really see that Peter is ‘unworthy’ of the title ‘rock’ or foundation of the Church of Christ. Yet, Jesus still made him so because Peter also knows him in a more personal way by professing his faith that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of the Living God. For Jesus this is what he needs for the leader of his Church- a personal, real and intimate knowledge of him. Jesus knows Peter’s confession was sincere and real, so he made him ‘the rock’ the strong foundation that would last till the end of time. Jesus could have said to Peter: ‘Remember Peter, I chose you not because of what you’ve done before, but because I can trust you that you really know me more deeply and personally than anyone else. I love you.’
Yes, the love of Jesus draws Peter and us now into a deeper and personal relationship with him. It is his love that motivates him to reach out and call us his friends. He calls us in love to love. Sometimes in our lives we feel unworthy of receiving his love more so to love others. We feel so miserable and so unlovable that we lose hope and faith in what Jesus has promised to us. But our gospel today reminds us that despite our human limitations and weaknesses, Jesus still loves us and trusts us to do something greater for his kingdom. And like Peter we are to confess our deep and personal knowledge of him, which is possible only if we have a deeper and a personal relationship with him.
So how can we grow into a deeper and a more personal relationship with Jesus?
Like Peter, let us be ourselves before him. We must not pretend to be perfect. A full cup is impossible to fill in. In our prayer let’s express ourselves freely to God, open up all our thoughts and our feelings to him for he knows us inside and out. Reading the scriptures especially the gospels or the whole New Testament is also another way of knowing Jesus, which then leads us to friendship with him. Another way is by looking at our brothers and sisters through the eyes that Jesus has for them, the eyes of love and compassion. And last but not the least, let’s develop a healthy friendship with a ‘human friend’ whom we can also express ourselves freely and confidently. Having good human friend is really important in our lives, since as John Dunne would say: ‘No man is an island.’ Moreover, having a ‘human friend’ or friends, I mean real, true and best friends, can make us realize how valuable it is to have someone whom we can rely on, someone who loves us no matter what happens, and no matter who we are. This personal friendship can also open up for us the beauty of friendship that Jesus has offered to us.
So our challenge today: Let’s welcome Jesus into our inner circle of friends. Let’s make him the centre of our lives and our human friendship. We may feel unworthy at times but by doing so, we can trust that we have a friend who loves us, who continually calls us, gives us authority, trusts us, welcomes us to his company and even selflessly gives everything he has for us his friends.