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The Everyday Prayer

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

Memorial of Saint Peter Damian (1007-1072). Faithful to his monastic vocation, he loved the entire Church and spent his life reforming it. Memory of the monks in every part of the world

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

Mark 8, 27-33

Jesus and his disciples left for the villages round Caesarea Philippi. On the way he put this question to his disciples, 'Who do people say I am?'

And they told him, 'John the Baptist, others Elijah, others again, one of the prophets.'

'But you,' he asked them, 'who do you say I am?' Peter spoke up and said to him, 'You are the Christ.'

And he gave them strict orders not to tell anyone about him.

Then he began to teach them that the Son of man was destined to suffer grievously, and to be rejected by the elders and the chief priests and the scribes, and to be put to death, and after three days to rise again;

and he said all this quite openly. Then, taking him aside, Peter tried to rebuke him.

But, turning and seeing his disciples, he rebuked Peter and said to him, 'Get behind me, Satan! 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 is with his disciples in the pagan territory of the Tetrarchy of Philip, where the city of Caesarea stood; it was named in this way by Philip after Caesar Augustus. Here, maybe because he was far from the Jews, Jesus could freely deal with the messianic issue, with no fear of being misunderstood by people or of causing reactions by the Pharisees. When close to the city, Jesus questioned the disciples on the rumours about himself: “Who do people say that I am?” In the Gospel of Mark, this question of Jesus is so relevant that it is right in the actual centre of the narration. And it is paramount even today: “Who is Jesus?” I believe that in this difficult and confused time, our generation should again answer this question. Jesus is at the northern border of Palestine, about 30 miles northeast of the lake. The evangelist seems to suggest that Jesus’ trip to Jerusalem started from here. Its beginning is marked by Peter’s profession of faith. The disciples answered Jesus’ question and reported what people said about him. But Jesus seemed to be little interested in this. Indeed he turned to the disciples and asked them, “But who do you say that I am?” Peter’s answer is clear: “You are the Messiah.” Messiah means the consecrated, the one sent by God. Peter did well confessing his faith. This is the right way to start the trip. It is also the right way for us to live at this time in a renewed way. Nevertheless, it is still a weak faith which should be nourished by the Gospel. Jesus, in fact, is forced to disown Peter harshly, immediately after. In fact Peter opposed the prophecy of the passion, that is, the establishment of the kingdom through the Messiah’s death. The total rejection of the passion prevents Peter from listening even to the resurrection announcement, which is equally clear in the Master’s words. Self-sufficiency and pride prevent Peter from fully welcoming the Gospel. Jesus could only firmly reject Peter’s words. And, with unprecedented harshness, Jesus compared him to the prince of evil, Satan: “Get behind me, Satan! For you are setting your mind not on divine things but on human things.” Jesus invited the apostle to get back to following him, to resume listening, not letting himself be guided by his own thinking and beliefs. Peter, the first among the apostles, was called to be again the first among disciples, among those who listen. We should all be “behind Jesus” in order to listen and to keep thinking according to God and not according to human beings.

Memory of the Church