Call to worship
Although Peter denied and doubted Jesus and succumbed to so much human weakness, he was the first to recognize Jesus’ divinity because of the intense love, faith and trust he had in Jesus. That steadfast love was the foundation upon which Jesus could build a church. Stronger than bricks and mortar is the foundation of love and the solid leadership of faith.
To the point: In answer to Jesus’ query about his identity, the disciples tell Jesus what others are saying about him. Jesus is not simply initiating an open discussion; he is leading the disciples to personal understanding and to a profession of who he is. Peter arrives there when he acclaims, “You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God.” Each of us must come to this same personal profession about who Jesus is. The church is that community of individuals who have come personally to know who Jesus is and have chosen personally to make Jesus known to the world. Jesus himself will lead us there through our personal encounters with him.
Connecting the Gospel (Matthew 16: 13-20) to the first reading: In the first reading, God clearly chooses who is not to lead (Shebna is removed from office) and who is to lead (Eliakim is appointed). In the gospel Jesus chooses who will lead — first Peter, but then all who profess that Jesus is the Christ.
Connecting the Gospel to experience: We think of “profession” in terms of one’s work; the word implies that someone is well trained, has expertise, and is committed. In this gospel “profession” is a public declaration of who Jesus is; implying commitment.
Who is the church?
Rather than a fixed edifice, the church is a fluidity of persons cemented together in the mystery of Christ. Nothing shall “prevail against it.” The church is the community of people that God has placed “like a peg in a sure spot.”
God assures that the church will continue — opening hearts with the keys of steadfast care and concern for peace. The church at Mass is the best sign of God’s presence — when lectors proclaim boldly with strong faith, when Eucharistic ministers extend themselves in care and compassion, when choir members sing with energy and spirit, when ushers and greeters welcome warmly, when servers and presiders engage us with dignity and warmth, when the assembly responds with full conviction. Then we know who Christ is and who we are.
Peter said in reply, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living.”
In a flash, Simon Peter saw who Jesus
is: one as fast as lightening,
slow as a breeze as it caresses a field.
Spirit, show us, too. Our Christ. Our Jesus.
The First Reading
“He shall be a father to the inhabitants of Jerusalem, and to the house of Judah.”
Spirit of God, please, fix the love of Christ in us,
like a round peg in a round hole.
Make us your one Church that
“fathers-forth” through the entire world.
Hopkins, Pied Beauty
The Second Reading
“How inscrutable are his judgments and how unsearchable his ways!
Who has known your mind, O God?
Who has been your counselor?
All things are from you and through you
and with you.
We are on earth to glorify you
in the depths of your riches and wisdom
and knowledge! Let us do that, please.
Copyright © 2020, Anne M. Osdieck
The Architecture of Bernini: St. Peter’s Square
Music for reflection
(Arcangelo Corelli 1753-1713)