Who Is Jesus?
Opening Question: What qualities makes someone a good worker?
First Reading: Isaiah 22:19-23
In King David's court, two boys grew into men: Shebna and Eliakim. Both were friends at first. They fought side by side in the army. And they kept peace in the court as guards.
Soon, however, Shebna began to show his true self. All he cared about was himself. He built himself up. "See what I can do," he seemed to say to get people's attention. Shebna worked hard, but only to get promotions. Anytime he could, he would put others down.
At first, the strategy worked. Shebna became head of the court guards. He controlled who the King would see. But, he figured he could charge people money to allow them to see the king. So, he made money. Then, he got greedier. Precious items began to disappear under his guard.
Unlike Shebna, Eliakim was honest. He never stole, never charged people money to see their leaders. Eliakim was tough, but fair. Eliakim was a good soldier.
What do you think happened to Shebna and Eliakim?
Read Isaiah 22:19-23
God blesses the honest and the fair. But the cheaters get punished in the end.
Bridging Question: Has anyone ever told you that you did a good job? How did it make you feel? Did it help you believe in yourself?
Gospel: Matthew 16:13-19
When Jesus went around the town of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his followers: "Who do people say the Son of Man is?"
"Some people say John the Baptist," they replied, "(but) others say Elijah, Jeremiah, or one of the prophets."
"Who do you say I am?" Jesus asked them.
"You are the Messiah, the Savior we've been waiting for. You are the Son of the living God," Simon answered.
"Happiness is yours, Simon Barjona!" Jesus exclaimed. "No one told you this. Only my Father in heaven could show you this truth. So I tell you now. You are Peter, the rock. On this rock I will build my Church, the community of my followers. And death itself will not overpower the community. I will give you the keys to the Kingdom of heaven. From now on, God approves of everything you prohibit or permit in the community."
Then he ordered his followers not to tell anyone he was the Messiah.
People are sometimes like mirrors. They tell you what you need to know, not what you want to know. If you have a messy face, they will tell you. If you have a frown instead of a smile, they will tell you that. If you have a talent that you don't notice, they will surprise you with that information.
Sally didn't like looking in mirrors, because she didn't think that much of herself. She didn't think she was cute, when in fact, she was very cute. She didn't think she was smart or talented, when she had a lot of talent. When people gave her a compliment, she would always say "Ah, it's nothing."
Without meeting her, people would think Sally was shy, but she wasn't. In fact, she was friendly. She would much rather focus on the talents and looks in others than herself. She admired and looked up to other people, her parents, her family, friends, even strangers. She always complimented others on their looks, abilities, and friends. If you ever heard Sally speak, you would remember, "Wow! You were great at..." And she was sincere about it.
With a personality like hers, Sally was well liked. She knew lots of people, because she listened to others, complimented them, and made them feel good about themselves. Sally was like a mirror that reflected all the good things in others, and everyone liked to look at themselves in that mirror.
Sally also played soccer. She loved the rough and tumble of the game. She loved to run around and try to steal the ball. The coach saw Sally's running talent so he played her as a mid-fielder. Sally was at her best on the field.
One day, Sally's team was locked in a fierce defensive battle with their rivals. For most of the game, players fought of the ball at mid-field, with few shots on the goals. Tied at 0-0, the forwards and the mid-fielders on each team tried to pass or dribble the ball up-field, only to have the ball stolen away.
In the closing moments of the fourth quarter, one of the forwards on the other team broke away from mid-field, down toward the goal. Sally ran as hard as she could and cut off the forward as she was just ready to make a shot. Sally stole the ball, dribbled past the forward, and made a dash down the side lines for the opposite goal. As the players on the other team converged toward Sally at mid-field, she booted the ball across the field to her team's left forward. It was a perfect pass! The forward broke away, shot, and scored the winning goal!
With the sound of the final whistle, Sally's team burst into cheers. They gave the scoring forward high fives, then, they turned to Sally. "Your steal was awesome!" one player commented. "I've never seen you run so hard in my life!" exclaimed another. "When I saw you run, I put in more effort!" "What a pass!" volunteered a third player.
At the end of season, the coach usually held an awards banquet every season. But this year was different. The coach called an embarrassed Sally forward with two gifts. "Sally, you get the most inspiration player award," the coach said. "This award has a picture of the pass you made to set up the winning goal against out rivals. That kick turned our team and our season around. That pass represented the kind of player you are. You play for others and your inspire others by your play. Not only do you play hard, you're our best cheerleader. And, oh, by the way, here is the ball you passed that day to win the game." The room burst into cheers for Sally.
Sally was a team member who played hard and built up others. And others built her up. She was a true leader.
When Jesus asked his followers, he asked them what kind of leader the people thought he was. Peter told him: "You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God." Like Sally, Jesus got this title because he lived for others. And Peter recognized that fact.
Jesus was like God's mirror that saw people as whole and healthy. Jesus taught and healed others to show them how much God loved them. In that mirror, people could see themselves as God sees them, as his children.
Closing Question: Is there someone you can compliment today? How can you give them the compliment?