Matthew 16: 13-19
Now when Jesus came into the district of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?” And they said, “Some say John the Baptist, but others Elijah, and still others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.” He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” Simon Peter answered, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.”
And Jesus answered him, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father in heaven. And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not prevail against it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.”
New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved (http://www.usccb.org/bible/approved-translations)
By this time in Matthew’s narrative, Jesus has a very familiar relationship with his disciples. He wouldn’t have asked a question like this except of trusted friends. As you read this passage, try to picture the scene, listen to the conversation between Jesus and the men he’d gathered around him as disciples, imagine the feelings it must have stirred up . . .
The first answers were simply reports of what others were saying: no opinions offered, no judgments made—they weren’t committing themselves. But Jesus didn’t let them off the hook. “But you,” he said, “who do you say that I am?” Picture their faces: surprise? fear? confusion? embarrassment? Probably all of the above. They must have looked to their natural leader, Peter, because after a moment he voiced for the first time what you and I believe without hesitation—and it changed his life instantly and profoundly, as it has changed ours: “You are the Christ . . .”
Watch Jesus’ face light up with joy as he recognizes the first dawn of real faith among these good men and breathes: “Blessed are you!!!” He greets our faith with no less joy: it is the same gift of his Father and ours. Imagine how Peter felt to be so affirmed. Think how often, later, in his moments of weakness and failure, Peter must have found in this memory the power to repent and move ahead. As do we. As does Christ’s Church, built on Peter “the Rock.”
—Fr. John J. O’Callaghan, S.J., Vice-President for Mission & Ministry, Loyola University Medical Center
Lord Jesus, help me enter into that peace which consists in having put my life in your hands.
—Carlo Maria Martini, S.J.