Anne O’Brien, Director of Mission at St Agnes’ Catholic Parish, reads and reflects on today’s Gospel from Matthew (16: 13-23) in which Simon Peter declares of Jesus, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”
The expression ‘Rock’ or ‘Rocky’ seems to have been popular for sports people and celebrities. The name suggests strength and resilience. In Greek, it is ‘Petros’ so St Peter is on the list for Rocky and called Rock. You could say he starred as Rocky long before Sylvester Stallone.
In Peter’s case, it was not physical strength that earned him this nick name but his powerful conviction that Jesus was the Son of God. Peter’s declaration of faith contrasts with the doubting Israelites in today’s first reading (Numbers 12:1-13) if you listen to those. Even Moses doubted, until he saw water spurt from the rock.
Today’s Gospel describes Jesus at Caesarea Philippi, a city built up on a spring at the base of Mount Herman. Water gushed from it. The image was clear though built on the wavering faith of his followers the Church would withstand persecution as Jesus was the source of eternal faith and eternal life.
Once again, today the Gospel writer is portraying Jesus as greater than Moses. He urges us, too, to place a complete trust in the Son of God. However physically weak we may sometimes feel ourselves; faith gives us the strength to persevere. Our church was founded on faith in the Lord Jesus and it is upon faith in Him that it will go on standing and we need to remember that.
As Anne’s reflection draws to a close, she offers this prayer:
Lord, we believe that you are the Son of the Living God. Help us to stand firm against any temptation to revere wealth or physical prowess instead; If we should ever lose sight of who we are and who you are, reveal yourself afresh to us. Amen.