In today’s Gospel Mt 16:13 – 20, we hear one of the most important questions asked by Jesus: “Who do people say the Son of Man is? And we know the answer: “Some say John the Baptist, some say Elijah and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets” but Jesus turns to Peter and asks him “But you, who do you say I am? We see the same direct, personal questions asked by Jesus on other occasions: “Do you also want to go away? Do you love Me more than these other do? You follow Me”. Peter’s response to Jesus is brief – only 10 words – “You are the Christ the Son of the Living God”. Peter acknowledges Jesus both as Christ / Messiah and Son of the living God – i.e. the God who is life, give and sustains life here and promises eternal life hereafter.

Then Jesus makes a triple response to Simon Peter – each response being itself a triple statement. The responses are respectively a beatitude, a conferring of a title and a granting of authority.

a) Blessed are you Simon, because flesh and blood did not reveal this to you but my Father in heaven.

b) Then the title “You are Peter and on this rock I will build my Church and the gates of hell will not prevail against it.”

c) The authority – “I will give to 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.”

Peter’s response comprised only 10 words and words are very easy to say but Peter had to live out that great profession of faith in Jesus. In the title Jesus gave him ‘you are Rock’ and “on you, the Rock I will build my Church.”

The Gospels are realistic in their memory of Peter. As well as being the one who confesses who Jesus is, he is also the one who denies Jesus 3 times. He is not only the one who expresses faith in Jesus – he also falters in his faith. He has to be helped by Jesus in all that he does but the Gospels clearly indicate that Peter is Jesus’ choice to lead the community in the future. He is the one who will return and strengthen his brothers. In giving authority to the man who denied him, Jesus wanted to show that He was establishing His Church not on human strength, but on His own love and faithfulness. The Church’s true foundation is Christ Himself. But Jesus saw Peter’s great qualities – his heart full of love, which in the end would lead him to die a martyr.

Jesus is asking you and me today the same question: “Who do you say I am?” What will our answer be?

Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta used to say

To me Jesus is my GOD

Jesus is my SPOUSE – Jesus is my LIFE

Jesus is my only LOVE – Jesus is my ALL in ALL

Jesus is my EVERYTHING

We all have to bear witness to Christ and help others to recognise Him and come to Him. We need above all to live with Him and stay with Him and this is what we call Prayer. As Pope Benedict bade farewell to the youth in Madrid today he asked them (and we can take these words to ourselves)

to preach Christ, to be rooted and built on Him. Respond with joy to Him and His call; fix your eyes on Him – He is the Wisdom of God. You have met Christ here. Very often you will be swimming against the tide, but through your faith and your personal relationship with Christ and your love for Him you can witness to Him.

Let us Pray:

Lord our God

all truth is from You

and You alone bring oneness of heart.

give Your people the joy

of hearing Your word in every sound

and of longing for Your presence more than for life itself

May all the attractions of a changing world

serve only to bring us

the peace of yor kingdom which this world does not give.

Grant this through Christ our Lord.