Sunday August 23

Gospel Of Matthew 16:13-20

You are the Christ

When Jesus came to the region of Caesarea Philippi he put this question to his disciples, ‘Who do people say the Son of Man is?’ And they said, ‘Some say he is John the Baptist, some Elijah, and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.’ ‘But you,’ he said ‘who do you say I am?’ Then Simon Peter spoke up, ‘You are the Christ,’ he said, ‘the Son of the living God.’ Jesus replied, ‘Simon son of Jonah, you are a happy man! Because it was not flesh and blood that revealed this to you but my Father in heaven. So I now say to you: You are Peter and on this rock I will build my Church. And the gates of the underworld can never hold out against it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven: whatever you bind on earth shall be considered bound in heaven; whatever you loose on earth shall be considered loosed in heaven.’ Then he gave the disciples strict orders not to tell anyone that he was the Christ.

Jesus asks ‘Who do you say I am? Here, he is interested in how I identify him not based on others’ insights or descriptions of him but based on my own personal knowledge of him. It may be informed by my knowledge of scripture, teachings of our church and conversations however, eventually it comes down to my own encounters with Jesus and the truth or verity of what has been revealed by God in my experience.

Mary Ward taught her sisters about verity. She knew that personal encounter with God revealed more about God and how to live than what one could learn from other human beings. 

It is not veritas hominum, verity of men, nor verity of women, but veritas Domini, and this verity women may have as well as men.[1]

Jesus points out to Peter that he has identifed him through his own personal encounter of God. He then gives Peter the keys of the kingdom of heaven. This verity that Peter has been given by God comes with a whole other realm of consciousness which I understand as ‘the communion of saints’, The reality Jesus alludes to is that the heavens are with us here on earth. Our church can oppress and harm the most vulnerable or on the other hand we can offer love, compassion and justice. Jesus says, ‘What you do to others you do to me’. What we do on earth matters and has an impact way beyond what we could possibly imagine. Today we have been given a wakeup call to know how deeply we are all connected. Imagine if we chose to let our lives be living witnesses to verity?

In my prayer, I ponder Jesus’ question ‘Who do you say I am?’

I ponder the communion of saints – all those I have loved who have gone before me. I allow myself to become aware of this stream of God’s love and I rest in it a while.

I notice what my response is. 

What do I resolve to do from this experience? Am I called to a new awareness or action?

[1] From Mary Ward’s addresses to her companions at St Omer, December 1617 to January 1618.