Matthew 16:13-23 NRSVue

13Now when Jesus came into the district of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?” 14And they said, “Some say John the Baptist but others Elijah and still others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.” 15He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” 16Simon Peter answered, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.” 17And Jesus answered him, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you but my Father in heaven. 18And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not prevail against it. 19I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.” 20Then he sternly ordered the disciples not to tell anyone that he was the Messiah.,

21From that time on, Jesus began to show his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and undergo great suffering at the hands of the elders and chief priests and scribes and be killed and on the third day be raised. 22And Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him, saying, “God forbid it, Lord! This must never happen to you.” 23But he turned and said to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a hindrance to me, for you are setting your mind not on divine things but on human things.”

Some thoughts on this scripture

We live in times of turmoil in the Church, of a deep-seated mistrust in all leaders, including those in the Church. I listen to Jesus giving Peter the mission of being the rock upon which he chose to build his Church. Jesus, who here acknowledges he is the Christ, the promised one, made this choice of building his Church on Peter, when he could well have chosen a different way. I pray to be given the faith that was given to Peter, of professing Jesus as the Son of the living God.

Yet, immediately after, the Gospel shows us Jesus using the strongest words to reproach Peter for his reaction to the foretelling of Jesus’ suffering. The Gospel does not hide the great limitations of Peter and his companions, on the contrary, it shows how difficult they found it to understand the message of Jesus and follow it. I pray for Pope Francis, for my bishop and for all Church leaders that they may, in their poverty and limitations, lead us towards faith in Jesus.