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TO KNOW AND LOVE THE REAL CHRIST

Father Francis's picture
Eighteenth Week in Ordinary Time

Num. 20:1-13 & Mt. 16:13-23

If ever we have experienced real thirst we can appreciate how the lsraelites felt without water, especially in the desert, until God miraculously produced some from a rock and they survived. Commenting on this passage, Saint Paul sees the rock as a sign of Christ Himself, the source of our life. (1Cor. 10:4). He understood that the favours and blessings of God upon His people in the long history of Israel reached a fullness in Jesus Christ.

Water from the rock in the desert gave the people renewed life, and it leads us to think about the water of Baptism by which Jesus has given us a share in His life, has made us members of His Father's family, the Church, and nourishes that life through the Holy Eucharist.

As with the lsraelites, God cares for our human needs but He has called us to a fuller and higher life. This is a gift which will lead us, not to a promised land, but to an eternal life of happiness with Him in Heaven, our ultimate home.

The people in today's Gospel tried to know Jesus by identifying Him with others. Some said he was John the Baptist, who preached repentance and conversion like the Lord. Some compared Him to Jeremiah, whose prophecies involved a new covenant that God would make with the house of Israel, one in which He would place His law within them, and "write it upon their hearts … I will be their God and they shall be my people." (Jer. 31:33). Some heard of Jesus' extraordinary powers, and mistook him for Elijah who was carried away in a chariot of fire. But none of these figures match and reveal His full mystery. Are we content with a partial knowledge of Our Lord, or do we ardently seek to know the real Jesus?

The Apostles know the Lord is more than Moses, Elijah, Jeremiah or even John. “Who do you say that I am?" He asked them. "You are the Christ, the Son of God." How wonderful it was for them to know by faith this truth! But do we appreciate this remarkable fact that we can know God, the Creator and Redeemer, through the person of Jesus Christ? We can rest in Him and find strength, hope and joy in Him.

Initially the Apostles had compared Jesus the holiest of Israel's past, but soon saw He was not only quantitatively but also qualitatively much, much more. The heavenly Father shed His light and they believed at last. We need to live in the light that has shone so brightly and continues to shine: Christ tells us that he is the light of the world and the Way, the Truth and the Life. Do we treasure our faith in Jesus Christ, guard it and strive to make it grow and bear much fruit?

Lord Jesus, only grace can strengthen our faith and allow us to understand, and see things the way You do. Increase our faith so we might rise above our own limits and come to know You as our supreme good.

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