10 November 2023

How do we know that Jesus is the Christ?

St. Leo the Great

Fr. Philip Neri Powell OP
St. Albert the Great, Irving

Jesus says that Simon Peter knows that he – Jesus – is the Christ b/c the Father revealed this truth to him. How do you and I know that Jesus is the Christ? Has the Father revealed this truth to us? Doubtful. Did we arrive to this truth through deductive reasoning? No. Empirical investigation? No. Maybe we used a Ouija board? Definitely not. Nor did we come to know this truth through angelic visitation, lucky guesses, or alien abduction. Everyone one of us came to believe that Jesus is the Christ b/c we chose to believe a witness. Someone, somehow testified to you and me that Jesus is the Christ. And we believed. Our witnesses also chose to believe a witness. And those witnesses believed on another's testimony. And so on, all the way back to Simon Peter. Since his testimony to the other disciples in front of Christ himself, those of us who chose to believe through the centuries have developed stories, poems, plays, complex philosophical and theological systems, liturgies, and legends around the mission and ministry of the Christ. We've received his gifts, used them to bear our own witness to his mercy, and jump-started many a sinner's movement toward becoming Christ themselves. It all begins with Peter, the Rock, and Jesus' question: “Who do you say that I am?” For our witness to continue, for our witness to bear good fruit, we need to answer this question everyday with Peter's own answer, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” If we answer any other way, we betray those who witnessed to us. If we answer any other way, we call Peter a liar and deny the Father's truth. If we say that Jesus is only a teacher; only an advocate for the poor; only moral exemplar; only an agitator for liberation; only an ideal or a model or an avatar for human love – then we are liars and traitors. And our foundation is built on sand. Jesus is the Messiah. Sent by the Father to become like us in all ways but sin. To become sin for us and die on the Cross for our eternal lives. He rose from the grave. Ascended into heaven. And now he sits at the Father's right hand, drawing us to him with perfect love. Do we know every detail of how this works with absolute certainty? No. But we know Christ and him crucified. That's the truth we have been sent to witness to. That's our testimony. 

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