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The Everyday Prayer

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Icon of the Holy Face
Church of Sant'Egidio, Rome

Reading of the Word of God

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

I am the good shepherd,
my sheep listen to my voice,
and they become
one flock and one fold.

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

Matthew 16,13-23

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 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 and said, 'You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.'

Jesus replied, 'Simon son of Jonah, you are a blessed man! Because it was no human agency 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 community. And the gates of the underworld can never overpower it.

I will give you the keys of the kingdom of Heaven: whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven; whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.'

Then he gave the disciples strict orders not to say to anyone that he was the Christ.

From then onwards Jesus began to make it clear to his disciples that he was destined to go to Jerusalem and suffer grievously at the hands of the elders and chief priests and scribes and to be put to death and to be raised up on the third day.

Then, taking him aside, Peter started to rebuke him. 'Heaven preserve you, Lord,' he said, 'this must not happen to you.'

But he turned and said to Peter, 'Get behind me, Satan! You are an obstacle in my path, because you are thinking not as God thinks but as human beings do.'


Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

I give you a new commandment,
that you love one another.

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

Jesus gathers the disciples in a secluded place and begins to speak to them. Every community needs moments like this, not for an empty and false kind of intimacy, but in order to grow in knowledge of and love for the Lord. Jesus asks what people are saying about him, but above all he wants to know what the disciples think. He knew that expectations for a Messiah were very much alive, but they were for a man who would be both militarily and politically strong. He was supposed to free the people of Israel from Roman slavery. This expectation was foreign to Jesus’ mission, which instead was aimed at radical liberation from the slavery of sin and evil. After their initial answers, Jesus goes directly to the disciples’ hearts: "But who do you say that I am?" He needs to know if the disciples are in tune with him, whether they share a "common way of feeling" with him. Peter speaks, and, answering for everyone, confesses his faith. And he immediately receives a beatitude. Together with that modest group of disciples, Peter belongs to the "little ones" to whom the Father reveals the things hidden from the foundation of Earth. And Simon, a man like any other, made of "flesh and blood," receives a new vocation from his encounter with Jesus, a new task and a new responsibility. He is called to be a rock, that is, a support for many others, with the power to bind new friendships and loose the many bonds of slavery.

Memory of the Church