Psalm 43: 1-4
In today’s gospel Jesus has just fed the 5,000. Jesus goes apart to pray. He then asks the disciples "Who do the crowds say that I am?" Then He asks the disciples: "Who do you say that I am?" After Peter’s confession, Jesus makes His first Passion Prediction.
Luke has Peter’s confession take place where Jesus prays. In other word, what follows is God’s plan for Jesus and His disciples. Luke has Jesus ask what the "crowds" say? Jesus is referring to those "crowds" who experienced the Miracle of the Loaves. Luke says that the crowds say Jesus is "one of the ancient prophets." In other words, Jesus belongs to the long lineage of prophets God has sent to save Israel.
The Jesus asks the disciples: "Who do you say that I am?" Peter says: Jesus is "the Messiah of God!" Like Peter, our knowledge has to be first hand. Disciples need to have a personal experience of Jesus. After Peter’s confession Jesus predicts His passion. Peter was not prepared to hear this. Jesus tells Peter to be a disciple one must "pick up their cross daily and follow Him." As Messiah Jesus is faithful to His mission and it leads to the cross. Jesus rescues humanity from alienation from God.
One of the most important questions in life has to do with identity and relationships. If we are disciples of Jesus it has to be a personal relationship. This relationship defines our values, priorities, and commitment. We are called to be people of prayer and to make our life decisions out of our prayer. We are called to have personal relationship with Jesus. Our discipleship allows us to daily die to ourselves in service to the "crowds," the others.
Fr. Kenneth O’Malley, C.P. is the archivist at Catholic Theological Union in Chicago.