In today’s Gospel, Jesus asks his disciples and each one of us two questions:
“Who do people say I am? Who do you say I am?” (Luke 9,19-20)
To the millions of young people gathered in Rome for the World Youth Day in the year 2000 Saint John Paul II asked:
“What is the meaning of this dialogue? Why does Jesus want to know what people think about him? Why does he want to know what his disciples think about him?
Jesus wants his disciples to become aware of what is hidden in their own minds and hearts and to give voice to their conviction. At the same time, however, he knows that the judgment they will express will not be theirs alone, because it will reveal what God has poured into their hearts by the grace of faith. This is what faith is all about! It is the response of the rational and free human person to the word of the living God. The questions that Jesus asks, the answers given by the Apostles, and finally by Simon Peter, are a kind of examination on the maturity of the faith of those who are closest to Christ.
(…) It is Jesus in fact that you seek when you dream of happiness; he is waiting for you when nothing else you find satisfies you; he is the beauty to which you are so attracted; it is he who provokes you with that thirst for fullness that will not let you settle for compromise; it is he who urges you to shed the masks of a false life; it is he who reads in your hearts your most genuine choices, the choices that others try to stifle. It is Jesus who stirs in you the desire to do something great with your lives, the will to follow an ideal, the refusal to allow yourselves to be ground down by mediocrity, the courage to commit yourselves humbly and patiently to improving yourselves and society, making the world more human and more fraternal.”
Saint John Paul II, through all the sufferings he patiently endured in his life, is now a model for us on how to make every suffering a powerful way to show love for Jesus, to foster compassion for others who may suffer more than us and to unite our sufferings to the sufferings of Jesus crucified. By this act of our will, our sufferings will help save souls.