Sunday, August 23, 2020

Tu es Petrus (Mt. 16:18)


Today’s Gospel is set in the region of Caesarea Philippi. That is in the north of Palestine in the largely pagan territory near the sources of the River Jordan in the area of what is now the Golan Heights. So Christ is away from his usual environment and he is focusing on the formation of his disciples. He questions them. ‘Who do people say that the Son of man is?’ Jesus asks. And after the disciples’ answer, more pointedly, he asks, ‘Who do you say that I am?’ And Peter replies: ‘You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.’

It was pure grace from God that Simon Peter knew of the true identity of Jesus. Among the many disciples, why was Peter was chosen as the disciple to found the Church? Maybe because Peter was always close to Jesus, he had that hunger to be always in his company.

Jesus founded the Church, saying, ‘you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my Church’ (Matthew 16:18). This is still the same Catholic Church where we belong right now. Peter was our first Pope; Pope Francis is our present pope – the 266th successor of Peter.

Jesus did not ask Peter to be a star, but rock; not brilliant, but solid; not popular, but the unwavering voice of Christ to his people. Previously Peter was known as Simon the new name of Peter meaning ‘rock’.

He said to Simon Peter: ‘You are a rock’. Jesus is saying something similar to you and to me today in this Mass, in his words that we have just heard in sacred scripture. Listen to what Jesus is saying to us, listen to who Jesus is asking you to be. Then face each day of this coming week in the midst of our very troubled world, trying to remember just who it is Jesus says we are and who he means us to be.

By Fr. Rajesh Minz, UK.

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