As noted in the reflection on the first reading for this Sunday there is a certain ambivalence in the way that Peter is presented in the Gospel of Matthew.
In the episode we hear this Sunday Peter is lauded for his profession of faith, but in a passage which we do not hear until next week – Jesus calls Peter Satan!
We all have our blind spots, we all of us want to make the world as we would like, or as we expect, it to be. Sometimes we look for the dark side, pessimistic and afeared to hope for things to be better. Sometimes we look for the best and resist those who urge us to face the challenges and obstacles that lie ahead.
Jesus affirms and celebrates and shares the glory that is the nearness of God’s kingdom. He also bravely faces up to the worst that humankind that put his way – trusting in God, trusting that he will not be abandoned to evil and to death.
Jesus teaches Peter, patiently, carefully, and again and again, to be able to do the same. Peter may have been a slow learner, but he proved to be a faithful student, finally capable of walking surely in his master’s footsteps.
- Where do you suspect your blind spots might lie?
- What most helps you find confidence in addressing them?
(NB the text set for Sunday is given below in bold and in ‘quote sections’ below; the rest is the immediate biblical text from which the Lectionary text is extracted)
Peter Confesses Jesus as the Christ
16.13 Now when Jesus came into the district of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?” 14 And they said, “Some say John the Baptist, others say Elijah, and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.” 15 He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” 16 Simon Peter replied, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” 17 And Jesus answered him, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven. 18 And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. 19 I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.” 20 Then he strictly charged the disciples to tell no one that he was the Christ.
Jesus Foretells His Death and Resurrection
21 From that time Jesus began to show his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised. 22 And Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him, saying, “Far be it from you, Lord! This shall never happen to you.” 23 But he turned and said to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a hindrance to me. For you are not setting your mind on the things of God, but on the things of man.”
Take Up Your Cross and Follow Jesus
24 Then Jesus told his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. 25 For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. 26 For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what shall a man give in return for his soul? 27 For the Son of Man is going to come with his angels in the glory of his Father, and then he will repay each person according to what he has done. 28 Truly, I say to you, there are some standing here who will not taste death until they see the Son of Man coming in his kingdom.”
~ Translation of Scriptures: English Standard Version (c) 2001-9, Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.
~ Commentary: (c) 2020, Allen Morris
~ Photo: (c) 2020, Allen Morris. Pew end carving of St Peter (disfigured by iconoclasts). St Lawrence church, Ludlow