In the gospel of Matthew we hear Peter exclaim, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God” (Matthew 16:16). This was a statement of faith by Peter, spoken from his head. But this faith didn’t stand up. On the night of Jesus’s arrest, Peter denied him three times.
After the resurrection, Jesus confronted Peter on the seashore and asked him three times, “Do you love me?” (Cf. John 21: 15-25), and three times Peter responded with a strong, “Yes”! This was a statement of faith by Peter, spoken from his heart.
Then in today’s gospel Jesus tells Peter, “You follow me.” And Peter did. He served the Lord faithfully, even unto martyrdom. The rest of Peter’s life was a statement of faith, spoken from his will.
Yes, full faith involves the total person, the head, heart and will. Faith is not an accent to a dogma. It is a relationship with the person of Christ. It is a commitment of our whole human being to God,
At Sunday Mass we all recite together the Creed, affirming what we believe with our heads. At Communion time, we say, “Yes,” to receiving Jesus, affirming our love for him. Then at the Dismissal Rite we are told to go forth to love and serve the Lord. We say, “Yes,” committing ourselves to put our wills to work. We choose to act and help bring about the Kingdom of God more fully upon this earth.
Professing our faith with our minds, hearts and wills involves our total person, and brings about a sense of wholeness. We know who we are and to whom we belong.
Fr. Alan Phillip, C.P. is a member of the Passionist Community at Mater Dolorosa Retreat Center, Sierra Madre, California. http://www.alanphillipcp.com/