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Twenty-First Sunday in Ordinary Time – Cycle A

Reflecting on Matthew 16:13-20

I love how Peter had his great moment of faith, and the accompanying praise from Jesus. He got it right! Had he been coming to this world-changing insight for weeks, maybe years? Or, like so many things that the Holy Spirit reveals, did it just impulsively pour out of his heart? You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God! he cried. And right away he knew that he was right.

Jesus brought him front and center, and announced to all the disciples that Peter was BLESSED, and it was upon his very faith the whole Church would be built. And then Peter, God bless him, brand-new in possession of the keys to the kingdom, opened his mouth again, and, well, that was a mistake.

Exactly two verses later (Matthew 16:23), when Jesus predicted his murder to his horrified friends, Peter, his new BFF, took him aside to correct him. You’ve got it all wrong! Nothing like that will ever happen to you!

And, just like that, Peter went from first place to last. How could he have gotten it so wrong, so fast? Peter, who just minutes before had possessed a great supernatural truth, was now a SATAN, a tempter who was trying to give Jesus a way out. And Jesus, through a lifetime of prayer, must have steeled himself from any ways out from the cross he knew awaited him.

Get behind me, Jesus said. Don’t lead my disciples into magical thinking. The cross, he knew, would await every one of The Twelve. Peter himself got behind Jesus and met his own crucifixion in Rome. The faith of the earliest Christians is the Rock (Petra) of our faith too.

In what ways was Peter’s impetuousness a help and a hindrance to Jesus’ mission?

Kathy McGovern ©2020

Ordinary Time - Cycle A

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