The heart of today’s gospel, it can be argued, is what Jesus said to Peter: “Blest are you, Simon, Son of John! Flesh and blood have not revealed this to you, but my heavenly Father.” This graced revelation is the foundation of Peter’s call and future ministry. Embedded here is also the foundation of our own call as Christians. In modern terms it can be expressed as a personal encounter with Jesus. Knowing (in the biblical sense) Jesus rather than knowing something about Jesus.

Pope Francis, in his pastoral letter, “The Joy of the Gospel” puts this front and center when he writes: “I invite all Christians, everywhere, at this very moment, or a renewed personal encounter with Jesus Christ, or at least an openness to letting him encounter them;t I ask all of you to do this unfailingly each day.”

Here is the root of the conversion experience to which all of us are continually called. Notice that, as with Peter, it is a direct personal revelation from God and not from “flesh and blood,” i.e. human sources. That is where it gets its power. With that experience we become the “rock.” Something powerful and beautiful burns within us. We know beyond any doubt the “Joy of the Gospel.” Our mission in life, rooted in such a personal experience, comes alive. Something to pray for each day!

—Fr. Jim Serrick, S.J. is a long-time musician, liturgist, and pastor. He currently serves at Colombiere Jesuit Center, Clarkston, MI.