Faith Daily | 4 August 2022
PRAYER of the DAY - APBA p568
whose beloved Son for our sake
willingly endured the agony and shame of the cross:
give us courage and patience
to take up our cross daily and follow him;
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever.
GOSPEL for the Day: Matthew 16: 13-23
13 Now when Jesus came into the district of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, ‘Who do people say that the Son of Man is?’ 14And they said, ‘Some say John the Baptist, but others Elijah, and still others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.’ 15He said to them, ‘But who do you say that I am?’ 16Simon Peter answered, ‘You are the Messiah,* the Son of the living God.’ 17And 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. 18And 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. 19I 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.’ 20Then he sternly ordered the disciples not to tell anyone that he was* the Messiah.*
21 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. 22And Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him, saying, ‘God forbid it, Lord! This must never happen to you.’ 23But 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.’
GOSPEL REFLECTION: Kay Murry
For some of us, enthusiastic, fallible, very human Peter is the favourite disciple. So when, in answer to Jesus’ question, unlike the other disciples, he goes beyond even the idea that Jesus is a prophet, and blurts out ‘The Messiah, the Son of the Living God!’ we want to go “Yay, Peter!”
As Jesus did, in his own words of blessing - recognising Peter’s God-inspiration.
Remembering yesterday’s verses, we know that Jesus giving Peter ‘the keys of the Kingdom of Heaven’ underlines the authority of the teaching of the Jesus followers into the future - against the misleading ‘yeast’ of the teaching of the Pharisees and Sadducees. This authority has sometimes become misused in rigid unloving ways in the institution we call Church, and consciousness of this casts a shadow over these verses for me. Keys don’t just open doors lovingly - sometimes they cruelly lock them shut. I don’t believe this was the kind of exercise of authority Jesus meant. His way was not one of exclusion, but one of inclusive love, even in very strong correction - As in verse 23 - he only tells Peter to get behind him, not to go from him!
The realisation that Jesus was the Messiah must have been a ‘mountain-top’ experience for Peter and the other disciples even though Jesus was so firm that they mustn’t speak of it. Matthew shows us Jesus bringing them down to earth, pointing out the dreadful events soon to come. And Peter’s (and our) very human side comes to the fore. Of course, who wouldn’t want this amazing man, just recognised as the Messiah, spared from all that horror? (even if, on the third day, to be raised, whatever that might mean?…) so Jesus points out in no uncertain terms that he needs Peter (and us) to focus not on human things, but on the divine, the Kingdom of God.
l find this a tall order, but I am encouraged by remembering that in various places Jesus is also quoted as saying “repent, for the Kingdom of God ‘is near’/ ‘is within you’ / ‘is at hand’ ”. So, providing I keep turning to God, as Peter did in his divine revelation, there’s hope for me yet to be one of those who in Jesus are helping to establish the reign of God; *overcoming evil, removing sin and death, and creating the new order of righteousness, love and peace.
*this is a quote from Allan Bell’s reflection of 6 July: I couldn’t think of a better way to put it…
Inspire us by our recognition of you as Son of God to focus our human lives by your Spirit so that others will be drawn into your Kingdom of love.