Is 50: 5-9; Jm 2: 14-18; Mk 8: 27-35
Alexander Master, Peter confessing Jesus to be the Christ_c.1430
Jesus and his disciples set out for the villages of Caesarea Philippi. Along the way he asked his disciples, «Who do people say that I am?» They said in reply, "John the Baptist, others Elijah, still others one of the prophets." And he asked them, "But who do you say that I am?" Peter said to him in reply, "You are the Messiah." Then he warned them not to tell anyone about him. He began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer greatly and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests, and the scribes, and be killed, and rise after three days. He spoke this openly. Then Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. At this he turned around and, looking at his disciples, rebuked Peter and said, "Get behind me, Satan. You are thinking not as God does, but as human beings do." He summoned the crowd with his disciples and said to them, "Whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me. For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and that of the gospel will save it. Mk 8: 27-35
In the Gospel of Mark, Peter is portrayed as the one apostle that Jesus raises to leadership, but at the same time Peter screws up so often that we can really identify with him. Despite the fact that Jesus gives him the keys to the kingdom of heaven, Peter messes up when he tries to walk on water, he misunderstands the transfiguration, totally misinterpreting it, he denies Christ three times and later on is even criticized by St. Paul. Yet despite this, Jesus placed his trust in him. If Peter can mess up that badly and Jesus can still put his trust in him, there must be hope for me!
Who do you say Christ is? ‘Who is Jesus for me?’ What kind of a relationship do you have with Him that you can even answer this question? What is it that Christ is asking you to do this day, this week? What kind of a cross can you bear? The answers are in today’s readings. And if you mess up the answer the way Peter did, know that God is patient and will wait for you to get it right.
By Fr. Ron Stephens