Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Matthew Chapter 16

This chapter really moves us along in the slow, steady and unyielding revelation of Jesus’s true Identity. The cornerstone of this chapter, and in fact, the cornerstone of the entire Gospel is here in chapter 16, verse 16.

Up to this point, Jesus has done and said many remarkable things. And yet he has been holding back: he’s been teaching in parables and has engaged with the Jewish temple establishment as to the reason for, and source of his words, teachings, and miraculous deeds. That all comes to end now. Peter is the first to make the Profession of Faith. Perhaps we can assume that after Peter confessed Faith in Christ Jesus, the other 11 did the same.  We will have to wait and see the fullness of Jesus’s revelation until chapter 17- so make sure you come back tomorrow. But for now, notice Peter’s confession of Faith and then take notice of Jesus’s reaction in vv. 21-28.

Notice that the Identity of Jesus is intimately and inextricably woven to the Mission of the Messiah.  Peter, having just seen the Identity of Jesus is not quite ready to accept the Mission of Jesus, who is the Messiah. This is the reason for the tender, yet forceful, rebuke of Jesus to Peter (vv. 21-23). In time, though, Peter will get there. And in fact, Peter will be there in his own place. He, too, we bear the cost of the Cross.

Jesus then closes this episode with a teaching on the Cross and self-denial. This is a tough teaching. But it follows naturally from Jesus’s revelation of his true Identity and Mission. From this point on, for Jesus, and his Apostles, there’s no turning back.

Point for Prayer
Let’s pray with St. Peter today. Reread vv. 13-20 and notice the ways in which Peter is chosen by the Lord to lead the Church after the Ascension. Now skip forward and read vv. 24-28. Some reflection questions: in what ways are you the Spiritual Leader of your house? Can you ask St. Peter to help deepen that vocation inside of you?  In what ways can you lead, in the ways of Faith, Hope and Love, the people you live and work and socialize with?

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