Thirteenth Sunday after Pentecost (27 August)

Today’s Gospel passage comes from Matthew, Chapter 16

Peter’s historic confession of faith in Caesarea Philippi stands as one of the great affirmations in the Gospels. Matthew presents it almost as a blurt – unanticipated, not overtly foreshadowed in the previous passage. Today’s Gospel scene takes place about twenty miles north of the Sea of Galilee outside of Herod’s jurisdiction and away from the Pharisees’ watchful eyes. This is a private conversation between Jesus and His disciples that took place where they could speak freely. For that reason, this conversation is particularly personal in nature in that the disciples felt free to express their personal convictions without fear of retribution. People are saying various things about Jesus, trying to understand what is going on in their encounters with him, identifying him with one great prophet or another come back to life. Jesus asks Peter about all of this, then looks at him directly and asks the question to which Peter is somehow about to respond with an historic confession. If Jesus were to ask you these two questions, what would you answer? First, what is the general opinion about Jesus that most people have today? When asked, most Christians would give the correct answer. Jesus is God. He is the Saviour. He is the Son of the Father. But sometimes those answers are more theoretical than they are personal. Often it is easy to believe things about Jesus rather than believing in Jesus. So, if you were to answer the second question, what would you say? Ideally, you would answer that Jesus is your Saviour, your God, your Shepherd, your Lord. Faith in Jesus must not only be theoretical, it must be deeply personal, flowing from the depths of your heart. Peter’s personal profession of faith became the rock foundation on which Jesus built His Church. In the same way, our personal profession of faith will become the unshakable foundation within our souls upon which God’s Church becomes alive in each one of us. When our faith is based upon a personal revelation from the Father in Heaven, spoken within the secrecy of our souls, then nothing can extinguish this faith.