Thursday, August 7 ~ Eighteenth Week in Ordinary Time
Saints Sixtus II, Pope and Martyr and Companions, Martyrs; Saint Cajetan, Priest
Holy Gospel: Matthew 16:13-23
Jesus went into the region of Caesarea Philippi and he asked his disciples, “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?” They replied, “Some say John the Baptist, others Elijah, still others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.” He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” Simon Peter said in reply, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” Jesus said to him in reply, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah. For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my heavenly Father. And so I say to you, you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my Church, and the gates of the netherworld shall not prevail against it. I will give you the keys to the Kingdom of heaven. Whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven; and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.” Then he strictly ordered his disciples to tell no one that he was the Christ. From that time on, Jesus began to show his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer greatly from the elders, the chief priests, and the scribes, and be killed and on the third day be raised. Then Peter took Jesus aside and began to rebuke him, “God forbid, Lord! No such thing shall ever happen to you.” He turned and said to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan! You are an obstacle to me. You are thinking not as God does, but as human beings do.”
When Jesus told his disciples that he must suffer many things, be rejected by the religious authorities in Jerusalem, and then be put to death, he also prophesied that he would be raised on the third day. Peter, always quick to respond, rejected the notion that the Messiah must suffer and be killed. This wasn’t the kind of Messiah that Peter and the Jews expected. They didn’t understand that the prophet Isaiah, some 700 hundred years before Christ’s birth, foretold that God’s Anointed One would come as the Suffering Servant who would be despised, rejected, and put to death to atone for the sins of the world [see Isaiah 52:13-15; Isaiah 53:1-12] . Jesus saw in Peter’s rejection a temptation to avoid the way of the cross which involved obedience and trust in God’s will, and voluntary suffering and sacrifice for the sake of others. Jesus rebuked not only Peter but Satan, the greatest of angels who disobeyed and refused to serve his Lord and Creator. Are you ready to follow the Lord Jesus, to suffer and die for him, that you may also share in his glory and resurrection?
By the power of the Holy Spirit, we pray, almighty God, make us docile in believing the faith and courageous in confessing it, just as you granted Saint Sixtus and his companions that they might lay down their lives for the sake of your word and in witness to Jesus. Who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
O God, who endowed the Priest Saint Cajetan with the grace of imitating the apostolic way of life, grant us, through his example and intercession, to trust in you at all times and to seek unceasingly your Kingdom. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
The question that Jesus asks his disciples is one that Jesus also asks each one of us: Who do YOU say that I am? And so, who is Jesus for you? If you truly believe in Jesus Christ as the Son of God, sent by God to redeem us, sent by God to show us the way, the truth and the life that we are to follow, how do we respond by our individual and collective actions to Jesus’ question “Who do YOU say that I am?” Actions speak louder than words; your response to this question is not only important