Person of Integrity
Today’s gospel passage is closely connected to last week’s. After realizing who Jesus is, the disciples begin to understand the way that He will walk, the way of the Cross. These two realities, who Jesus is and how He lives, are inseparable in him. There is in Jesus a coherence, an integration between these two aspects of his life.
He is the Messiah, yet His life is a life of self-denial and sacrifice for the salvation of others, for our salvation. That coherence is what Peter does not understand; this lack of understanding brings about the situation we read in today’s gospel. Two thousand years later, we do not have doubt about Jesus’ identity and His mission, because for us to look retrospectively makes it more comprehensible, easier for us to understand.
Now, trying to apply the Gospel to our lives, we need be conscious of who we are. You have probably heard others say: “People like us don’t do those things”… or “Remember who you are”. Most of the time, to be aware of or to remember our identity is related to action. In the case of Jesus, His knowledge of His messianic nature moves Him to live and to act the way He did.
Among the things that Jesus commends in others is this same coherence or integrity of person. In the Gospel of John we see him praising Nathanael: Behold an Israelite indeed, in whom there is no guile (Jn 1:47).In my years as a priest, there has not been a more enjoyable encounter than meeting with people in whom ther is not guile. They know who they are, where they stand, and what they believe and, even though sometimes we could not agree on many things, I admire their personal integrity. Living and acting according to who we are and what we believe, sometimes these two parts of us become one. Yes, we become what we believe; we are Catholic, just as Jesus is the Messiah.
We, all of us, should have a deep knowledge of our identity, of who we are as sons and daughters of our Heavenly Father, saved by the death and resurrection of Jesus. The famous Saint Leo the Great encouraged people saying: “Remember who is your head and of whose body you are a member. Never forget that you have been rescued from the power of darkness and brought into the light of the Kingdom of God.” (Sermo 22 in nat. Dom).
And knowing who we are, we should live the life that is in harmony with all that this implies.