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.
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
The heart of today’s gospel, it can be argued, is what Jesus said to Peter: “Blest are you, Simon, Son of John! Flesh and blood have not revealed this to you, but my heavenly Father.” This graced revelation is the foundation of Peter’s call and future ministry. Embedded here is also the foundation of our own call as Christians. In modern terms it can be expressed as a personal encounter with Jesus. Knowing (in the biblical sense) Jesus rather than knowing something about Jesus.
Pope Francis, in his pastoral letter, “The Joy of the Gospel” puts this front and center when he writes: “I invite all Christians, everywhere, at this very moment, or a renewed personal encounter with Jesus Christ, or at least an openness to letting him encounter them;t I ask all of you to do this unfailingly each day.”
Here is the root of the conversion experience to which all of us are continually called. Notice that, as with Peter, it is a direct personal revelation from God and not from “flesh and blood,” i.e. human sources. That is where it gets its power. With that experience we become the “rock.” Something powerful and beautiful burns within us. We know beyond any doubt the “Joy of the Gospel.” Our mission in life, rooted in such a personal experience, comes alive. Something to pray for each day!
—Fr. Jim Serrick, S.J. is a long-time musician, liturgist, and pastor. He currently serves at Colombiere Jesuit Center, Clarkston, MI.
Lord, you ask a question to Peter that could be asked of us: “Who do you say that I am?” If someone were to review a video of my day, capturing both the daily routines and the more significant moments, would I be identified as your follower?
Lord, I recommit myself to you. Where I experience resistance to suffering and sacrifice, let me surrender in hope to you. Where I allow my ego and my fears to dilute my commitment to living for you, grant me your grace to move forward in your love and mercy.
—The Jesuit Prayer TeamPlease share the Good Word with your friends!