Memory of the Church

Share On

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

After landing on the eastern shore and healing the blind man at Bethsaida, Jesus leads his disciples to Caesarea Philippi, on the northern border of Palestine, where the population was pagan. Perhaps Jesus had intended to spend some time alone with his disciples. Every community needs moments like these, not for an empty or false intimacy, but to grow in knowledge and love of the Lord. This is when Jesus asks his disciples what the people are saying about him. He knows very well that many people are eagerly anticipating the coming of the Messiah, understood as a powerful man both politically and militarily. He was supposed to liberate the people of Israel from the slavery of the Romans. In truth, their expectations were totally at odds with Jesus’ mission, which was to free people from that slavery of sin and evil. There were many different rumours about Jesus. Some people in Herod’s court thought he was the Baptist, raised from the dead, while others thought he was Elijah and still others Jeremiah, who, according to beliefs at that time, was going to reclaim the ark and the sacred vessels hidden in Mount Nebo at the time of the exile. But Jesus, after hearing their answers, goes straight to the disciples’ heart and asks: “But who do you say that I am?” Jesus needs to know that the disciples are in harmony with him, that they share his feelings, and that they know his true identity. Peter answers on everyone’s behalf and confesses his faith in him as Messiah. And he is immediately blessed. Peter, along with that small group of disciples, is one of those “little ones” to whom the Father reveals what has been hidden since the foundation of the earth. And Simon, a person like everyone else, made of “flesh and blood”, receives a new vocation from his encounter with Jesus, a new task and a new responsibility: to be a rock, a support for the others, with the power to bind new friendships and loose the bonds of slavery that keep people from following the Gospel. Peter’s response, given in the name of all the others, comforts Jesus and allows him to move toward that true intimacy that is communion with Him and his mystery. Jesus opens his heart to them and reveals what end he will face in Jerusalem: the Messiah is not powerful, but weak, and he will be killed. Peter does not understand what Jesus says and even thinks him a bit crazed. And spurred on by instinct, certainly not by the faith with which he spoke earlier, he tries to dissuade Jesus from his mission and his journey toward Jerusalem. In truth, he is the one who has much further to go on the path of understanding the Lord, just like the rest of us. And Jesus says to him, “Get behind me, Satan!” as if to tell him to get back to following the Gospel.