Wed, 7 August 2019
(Nm.20:1-13; Ps.95:1-2,6-9; Mt.16:13-23)
“‘You are the Messiah,’ Simon Peter answered,
‘the Son of the Living God!’”
With this response, because of this faith come from the “heavenly Father,” Jesus declares to Peter, “You are ‘Rock’, and on this rock I will build my Church.” He entrusts to him the keys of the kingdom of heaven, with power to bind and loose. As from the rock Moses struck, “water gushed out in abundance for the community… to drink,” so through Peter and the Church Christ has founded we are nourished by the sacraments and true teaching. So the Son of the Living God is with us.
“Let us acclaim the Rock of our Salvation… Come, let us bow down in worship; let us kneel before the Lord who made us. For He is our God, and we are the people He shepherds, the flock He guides.” By the hand of Peter the Lord guides the Church born of His blood. Indeed, as Moses led the Israelites through the desert, so Peter leads us now to the gates of heaven. Let us declare our faith with him; let us echo his words to the Lord, giving Him due praise and “joyfully sing[ing] psalms to Him.” He is our God, He is our Savior, and in this Rock we take refuge.
But let us remember, too, not to judge “by man’s standards but by God’s.” His ways are not our ways, as both great leaders had to learn. It seems to our human minds unfair that Moses should be deemed unfit to lead the Israelites to the Promised Land; it is they, after all, who continually tempted him with their grumbling, plotting even to take his life. And why is the Lord so harsh toward Peter, even calling him “Satan”? He is only concerned for Jesus’ life, is he not? The Lord does not judge as we judge. He wishes to teach Moses to deepen his love and concern for the people, that anger is never justified in the care of those in one’s charge – the Lord does not act in the rashness of anger and anxiety, and neither should we. And to Peter He must show the necessity of the sacrifice of this life, that we must be “put to death” to be “raised up on the third day” – it is the laying down of this life which brings glory.
Really, in both cases the Lord is calling His leaders to lay down their lives for the people, to do as He does and take the people’s sins upon themselves. And this is, of course, the call of us all – to be like Him, to join with our Savior, the Son of the Living God, in His sacrifice. What is more against the standards of man than the cross of Christ, as Paul has told us elsewhere, “a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles” (1Cor.1:23) – and yet the source of our salvation. For to come to the Living God we proclaim as our own, this world and its passions must be left behind. The Father dwells in highest heaven and His ways must become our own. Take refuge now in the Rock of Christ and in His Church; this shall lead you to His presence.
O LORD, your ways are so far above our own,
and how shall we attain to them,
except by faith and the grace that comes to us
through your holy Church?
YHWH, how could we even begin to put you to the test? How could we be so foolish as to ask you any question, as to doubt your goodness toward us, your presence among us? What of this world should lead us to such blindness to your love? Should we not be ready even to die for you?
It is you who have the power and grace to put us to the test, and so your Son asks, “Who do you say that I AM?” Do we really believe He is the Messiah? Do we really believe you have sent Him to us to die for our sins that we might be raised up with Him? Or do we indeed doubt the greatness of your love? O LORD, help us to judge as you judge, to see as you see, and so to know your glory.
It is not in this desert we shall find our home; it is not the food of this world that is our fare. It is to Heaven we must come, and in your Church we shall find a way there. Help us, O LORD, to show forth your sanctity, to join in the sacrifice of your Son and worship Him alone.