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Peter’s confession about Jesus

Gospel Reading: Mt 16:13-19
When Jesus went into the region of Caesarea Philippi he asked his disciples, “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?” They replied, “Some say John the Baptist, others Elijah, still others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.” He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” Simon Peter said in reply, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”

Jesus said to him in reply, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah. For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my heavenly Father. And so I say to you, you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my Church, and the gates of the netherworld shall not prevail against it. I will give you the keys to the Kingdom of heaven. Whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven; and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.”

Sometimes I find it strange that we celebrate St. Peter and St. Paul together on the same day. We all are so used to this that we do not reflect on this strange phenomenon. We consider Peter and Paul as the pillars of the early Church.

And yet, these two men of God, these two missionaries, were such opposite characters that it puzzles me to celebrate their feast together.

Peter was chosen by Christ as apostle; Paul was a latecomer. Peter took care of Jewish Christians while Paul went out of the Jewish environment and courageously brought the faith in Christ to the Gentiles.

Peter was not very courageous, as we know from his three denials of Jesus, while Paul was so bold and straightforward that he made enemies everywhere. In Antioch, as Paul wrote to the Galatians, he confronted Peter and scolded him for his cowardice and bad example.

Still, Jesus calls Peter the rock on which he will build his Church. The rock stands for stability, solidity, permanence, and tradition. Through Peter, who has been with Jesus and has listened to his teachings, what Jesus teaches is safely transmitted to the following generations. Peter stays most of the time in Palestine where Christianity is born, and concentrates his apostolate on his Jewish fellowmen. Therefore, he represents tradition and continuity. Only once in a while he goes to the second Christian center, Antioch, and finally to Rome where he gives his life for Christ and his faith.

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SOURCE: “366 Days with the Lord,” ST PAULS, 7708 St. Paul Rd., SAV, Makati City (Phils.); Tel.: 895-9701; Fax 895-7328; E-mail: publishing@stpauls.ph; Website: http://www.stpauls.ph.