SPP – 29 June 2014
Ss Peter & Paul - Peter's Confession of Faith
Message by: Fr Richard M Healey
MP3 Audio file
Today we honour the apostle Peter, who represents that part of the Church which gives it stability: its traditions and the structures which help to give consistency and unity to the Church, spread as it is through so many races, cultures, experiences and geographical diversity.
In the Gospel today from Matthew chapter 16, Peter’s confession of faith begins as a dialogue between Jesus and the disciples. Jesus asks about popular speculations regarding his identity, and the disciples list some current opinions. Then Jesus moves the discussion to be much more personal, with the question that every one of us needs to answer: “who do you say I am?”
Peter appears as the spokesman for the group and proclaims Jesus to be the Messiah which is a Hebrew word that means “anointed one”; its Greek translation is Christos. Peter’s confession of Jesus as the Messiah reflects the disciples’ hope that Jesus would deliver Israel from its enemies and establish God’s kingdom on earth. To this declaration, Peter adds further specification of Jesus’ identity – that he is “the Son of the living God” which helps to correct and transcend any false implications present in the title “Messiah.” What Peter was saying was: you are the true king. You’re the one Israel has been waiting for. You are God’s adopted son, the one of whom the Psalms and prophets had spoken.
In reply, Jesus gives a blessing to Peter declaring that Peter’s confession was a revelation from God. The next verse in very Semitic language promises that Peter is the rock on which the Christian community will be built after Jesus’ death and resurrection.
Peter, with this declaration of faith, will be the starting point of a new community. Peter has much to learn, and many failures to overcome — including one in the very next passage. But even this is part of the process. Jesus’ new community, after all, will consist simply of forgiven sinners.