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Peter’s confession about Jesus

Gospel Reading: Mt 16:13-20
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.” Then he strictly ordered his disciples to tell no one that he was the Christ.

REFLECTION
Our faith is your faith
In the Gospel, Jesus – the Messiah and Son of God – asks, “Who do you say that I am?” (v 15).

As Simon Peter’s confession of faith and the Lord’s affirmation of this confession strike us with awe, we can exclaim what the Apostle Paul writes to the Romans in the Second Reading: “How inscrutable are [God’s] judgments and how unsearchable his ways!” (v 33). By means of two related questions – “Who do people say…?” (v 13) “Who do you say that I am?” (v 15). – Jesus reveals to us the true nature of our Catholic faith.

The disciple’s response to Jesus’ first question makes it evident that people fail to grasp the real Jesus. They simply confine themselves to the understanding that Jesus is “one of the prophets” (v 14). And so the question now falls upon Simon Peter, the disciple who is always mentioned first among the Twelve.

Peter’s response is bold and sure, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God” (v 16). Does Peter’s response mean that Peter is either a god or God is lesser than Peter? No, for Jesus confirms, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah.

For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my heavenly Father” (v 17).

Finally, the Lord tells Peter, “I will give you the keys to the Kingdom of heaven” (v 19). Similar to what God promised to Eliakim in the First Reading (v 22), Jesus will give Peter the keys, the symbol of authority and of the power to bind and to loose.

From this dialogue between the disciples and Jesus, we can understand the mystery of our Catholic faith.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC) teaches, “Faith is first of all a personal adherence of man to God” who revealed himself (cf n 150). Yet, being a personal response to God’s revelation, this faith is prone to subjective interpretation and is constantly in need of guidance. Far from being an individual adherence, believing then ought to be an act of the Church also (cf CCC 181). Every baptized person needs the Church as mother, guide, and teacher who “teaches us the language of faith in order to introduce us to the understanding and the life of faith” (cf CCC 171).

Though the Church’s leaders – Peter and the Apostles’ successors – are humans, prone to weakness and sin, their teaching needs to be heeded more than ever. Christ’s promise remains: “The gates of the netherworld shall not prevail against it” (Mt 16:18).

St. Cyprian synthesized this truth in simple terms: “No one can have God as Father who does not have the Church as Mother” (De unit. 6: PL4, 519). Our faith should be your faith.

SOURCE: “365 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.

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