A few months ago before the Pope’s visit to the United States, a journalist asked me, “What’s the Pope’s main message going to be during his visit? The economy or the environment?”
I think my answer surprised him. “His main message is going to be Jesus Christ.” The Pope’s recent encyclical, Laudato Si’, focused on the environment; he also has written and spoken at length about economic matters and other social justice issues. But his main message is the Gospel. His main task is to proclaim the Gospel. And to help people come to know Jesus.
In today’s Gospel Jesus asks the disciples if they understand his identity. You can hear their hesitation. They won’t say what they believe; instead, they talk about others’ beliefs. Finally Peter gives the correct answer: “Christ.”
It’s important for all of us to ask ourselves the question, even if we understand that Jesus is the Christ. Who is Jesus for me? And what difference will he make in my life?
—Fr. James Martin, SJ, is the author of our special series of reflections in honor of Pope Francis’ visit to the U.S. Fr. Martin is associate editor of America magazine; a frequent commentator in the media; and author of many books, including, most recently, Jesus: A Pilgrimage and his novel The Abbey.