“Faith is not merely the acquiescence of the mind in certain truths, it is the gift of our whole being to Truth itself, to the word of God.”
Excerpted from “Life and Holiness” by Fr. Thomas Merton, OCSO
Monday, February 22 ~ Second Week in the Season of Lent
Feast of the Chair of Saint Peter, Apostle
Holy Gospel: Matthew: 13:16-19 When Jesus went into the region of Caesarea Philippi 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.”
Meditation: Jesus confers upon Peter authority to govern the church that Jesus would build, a church that no powers would overcome. Jesus plays on Peter’s name which is the same word for “rock” in both Aramaic and Greek. To call someone a “rock” is one of the greatest of compliments – even in this day and age. The ancient rabbis had a saying that when God saw Abraham, he exclaimed: “I have discovered a rock to found the world upon.” Through Abraham God established a nation for himself. Through faith Peter grasped who Jesus truly was. He was the first apostle to recognize Jesus as the Anointed One (Messiah and Christ) and the only begotten Son of God. The New Testament describes the church as a spiritual house or temple with each member joined together as living stones (see 1 Peter 2:5). Faith in Jesus Christ makes us into rocks or spiritual stones. The Lord Jesus tests each of us personally with the same question he asked the disciples in today’s gospel: “Who do you say that I am?” What is your response?
Prayer: Grant, we pray, almighty God, that no tempests may disturb us, for you have set us fast on the rock of the Apostle Peter’s confession of faith. 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.
Contemplation: In today’s gospel Jesus Christ also asks each one of us: “Who do you say that I am?” Obviously our personal response has great ramifications. A wonderful response to come not only from our lips, but from deep from within our hearts would be: “Lord Jesus, I profess and believe that you are the Christ, the Son of the living God. You are my Lord and my Savior. Make my faith strong and help me to live in the victory of the cross by rejecting sin and by accepting your will.” Thus our response to Jesus’ question requires sincere thought and discernment, which is something we should do during this Season of Lent for as we identify ourselves as disciples of Christ we must do so by the manner in which we think, speak, and live out our daily lives. Does your life reflect that of a disciple of Christ? We all have the capacity to do so, so let’s make this a priority during this Lenten season, and certainly beyond.