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.” Then he sternly ordered the disciples not to tell anyone that he was the Messiah.
From that time on, Jesus began to show his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and undergo great suffering at the hands of the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised.And Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him, saying, “God forbid it, Lord! This must never happen to you.” But he turned and said to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; for you are setting your mind not on divine things but on human things.”
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.
As I prepared this reflection, I looked as I always do for a sign to guide me to where I was headed. And then I found my friend Peter with his foibles and flawed and recognizable humanity in the gospel. I have come to know that if Peter is in the story, expect turmoil, mistakes and surprises, yet I know to expect forgiveness, transformation and a relationship becoming new on the horizon.
Peter, named as rock, is called by God to be the foundation of the church. Today’s reading reminds me that my own humanity is my own foundation of faith. As with Peter, my humanity offers challenge and reconciliation and new depth to my covenant with God. Peter was changed, I am changed. God delights in my humanity, as I ever learn to grow more deeply in the reality of God’s never ending love. My flawed humanity mirrors Peter. I too am that rock on which this church is built.
—Mary-Burke Peterson is a parishioner at St. Nicholas Church, Evanston, IL, an active volunteer in the Ignatian Spirituality Project, and a graduate student at Institute for Pastoral Studies at Loyola University Chicago.
My God, I give you my heart.
And, since you are so good as to give me another day,
give me the grace that everything I do
will be for your honor and the salvation of my soul. Amen.
—St. John Vianney