Rock, or Stumbling-Block?

Matthew 16:13-23
Nm 20:1-13 / Ps 95:1-2,6-9

. . .you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church. . .
(Matthew 16:18)

Who Jesus is in my life today
Reflects the things I do and say.
Lord, let me always display Your ways
That others too may give You praise.

When Jesus went into the region of Caesarea Philippi, He asked His disciples, ‘Who do people say that the Son of Man is?’ They replied, ‘Some say John the Baptist, others Elijah, 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.’ Jesus said to him, ‘Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my heavenly Father. And so I say to you, you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not prevail against it. I will give you the keys to the kingdom of heaven. Whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall 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! No such thing shall ever happen to you.’ But He turned and said to Peter, ‘Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling-block to me. You are thinking not as God does, but as human beings do.’

Reflection

In all the four Gospel accounts, it was Peter who rose to the occasion to answer the Lord’s question: ‘Who do you say that I am?’ (Mt.16:16, Mk.8:29, Lk.9:20, Jn.6:69). Peter’s words: ‘You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God’ reverberated against the dead idols that the gentiles worshipped in the temples of Caesarea Philippi. Since he was the one inspired by the Holy Spirit to affirm the divinity of Jesus, this was the sign that Peter would be the first leader of the Church that Jesus was going to establish (‘Upon this rock I will build my church’).

Caesaria Philippi was a place full of marble and granite rocks, the reason perhaps why our Lord so readily ascribed the word Petros (Aramaic and Greek for ‘rock’) to Simon Peter. The dictionary defines petrous as something dense and hard, and how aptly this play of words described Peter, who, in the next moment was rebuked by Jesus as a ‘stumbling-block’ for contradicting His prophecy.

There is a little of St. Peter in everyone of us: inspired and articulate in one moment, then blustering tactlessly in the next. Yet God does not take our denseness and lack of perception into account, just as a parent understands his immature children. What matters to Him is how relevant Jesus is in our life. How real is Jesus to us? Have we been reflecting His reality in our life? Are His values the rock of our faith?

Eternal Father, thank You for making us see that You are always with us in your Holy Spirit to strengthen us, Your Church, against all forces of evil. Grant us the grace and discernment to be firm in our faith always, as You are our Rock and our Foundation. Amen.

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