21st Sunday in Ordinary Time - 27th August, 2017

Liturgical Reflection

 
 

You are Peter

Peter is the rock, the one on which so much of the history of the last 2000 years stands.  Jesus gives dominion and the nexus between heaven and earth to this man.  This man who, lacking in courage, would betray him; but Jesus recognised human frailty and did not see it as a barrier but rather as a strength.

Matthew relates how Jesus led the disciples to an understanding of who He is and His vision for the church.  He uses a questioning technique to establish known facts.  The Lord appears almost surprised when Simon answers revealing his understanding of the great truth that Jesus is the Messiah.  Jesus sees in Simon a depth of basic faith and it is here that Simon becomes Peter although later on he is sometimes called Simon possibly to remind him of past inadequacies.  Changing names in the Bible is not uncommon and is usually at a turning point; the establishment of a new pathway under God’s direction.  Peter will falter and make some fairly dire mistakes (as we all do) which must have shaken his faith in himself to the core.  It is because of the solidity of Simon’s faith we have the bedrock of the church.  Jesus says he will build his church but interestingly does not do this during his lifetime.  It is a church built by humans, weak and limited.  Indeed its continuing existence through the centuries could be counted as miraculous.

Peter is a human we can all relate to: he tries his best, has good intentions, fails almost at the first hurdle, but picks himself up and off be goes again.  Jesus realised that God had given Peter the revelation concerning the truth about Himself.  His Father had, so to speak, provided the imprimatur to the appointment.

 

 

In a world where change is the norm and one wakes up to scary things every morning, we are blessed with a steadfastness of faith-based truths, rather like grabbing on to a tall palm tree in a tsunami – you know you will be flung around vigorously and you will be wet and uncomfortable and quite possibly injured, but you and the palm tree will still be standing when it’s all over.  This is the gift that Jesus gave us when he established the leadership of Peter.

The wisdom of St Paul in Romans, presents as a comfortable mattress, a calming balm, a place to rest with the realisation that all is encompassed in God and that understanding is in no way essential to Faith.

From the opening prayer a final blessing:
‘May the attractions of a changing world serve only to bring us the peace of God’s kingdom which this world does not give.’

Judith Croke