PRAISED BE JESUS, MARY, AND JOSEPH!
Caesarea Philippi was a forested area where pagan worship of the spirits abound. Numerous shrines were built to honor the false gods. It was there where Jesus posted the question to the disciples: Who do people say that I am? The many answers given were all wrong. And so, Jesus asked them: Who do you say that I am? Simon Peter, having received the revelation from the Father who alone knows the Son, responded: You are the Christ, the Son of the living God. This declaration of faith was made amidst the idols that were worshipped in that forest. Simon Peter gave witness to the one true God and by doing so, he declared all the others as false. There is only One and that is you, O Jesus the Christ. All the rest are false gods that have eyes but do not see, have ears but do not hear, have nostrils that have no life in them.
Because Peter glorified Jesus by declaring the truth of his divinity, the Lord in return declared the new identity of Simon: He is Peter upon which Christ builds his Church. The Lord once said that the wise man build his house upon solid rock so that even if the winds blew and torrents fall, the house would stand for ever. More than a wise man, Jesus is himself the Wisdom of God. So he established his house upon solid rock and that rock is Peter. His Church will withstand not only wind and hale. The Gate of hell will not prevail against it!
At Caesarea Philippi, Peter singles out Jesus as the true God from amongst the false gods. At Caesarea Philippi, Jesus singles out the true religion from amongst the others. He clearly said that he was establishing only one religion…only one Church: On this Rock, I will build my Church. Notice that he said Church, not churches. The Only Begotten Son of God established only one Church. Jesus is the Only Begotten Son of God, he and no other. He established only One Church, that and no other. But as we see, there are many who make claims that they are the one. But if there can only be one Church that he founded, it would mean that the rest are false. Because there is only one God, the rest are false deities. In like manner, if there is only one Church established by the only Begotten of the Father, then the rest are false churches, false religions. Now, which one of them would be the true Church established by Jesus? Jesus said to Simon: You are Peter (Rock) and upon this Rock I will build my Church. The one true Church, the one true religion was established by Jesus upon St. Peter. Therefore, which Church can present evidence of an unbreakable chain of leaders from St. Peter to the present Pope? It has to be the one, holy, Catholic, and apostolic Church! Which Church could present the bones of St. Peter? Still, it would be the Holy Catholic Church. The bones of St. Peter rest underneath the Papal altar of St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome. Rome, where the seat of the true Church is, is home to the bones of both Peter and Paul. Some “churches” take pride in their centennial anniversary. However, the true Church will be 2,000 years old on the year 2033 AD. The Catholic Church in the Philippines is even older than the Iglesia because while they celebrate their 100 years of existence this year, we in the Philippines are on our way to our 500th year in 2021.
Many people dismiss the need for religion: We do not need religion so long as we have a relationship with some gods. Well, we cannot call simply on any god and hope to be saved because if we call on a false god, that is, a god that does not exist, we cannot expect to be helped by someone who does not exist. Our relationship with a deity is called “religion”. Therefore, if the god we relate to does not exist, how can a so-called relationship with someone who does not exist prosper? We cannot say that all religions are the same because the true religion is not the same as the false religions. Even in human courts of law, the truth and only the truth is worth considering and lies cannot be evaluated as equal to the truth. How you be saved by something that is not true? Because we need to be saved, we need to call on God. But we cannot call on just any god…only the true and living God can deliver his promised salvation: You are the Christ, the Son of the living God. It cannot be just any religion, it had to be the True Religion: You are Peter and upon this Rock I will build my Church.
Jesus, I trust in you! O Mary conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to thee!