Sunday Gospel - Matthew 16:13-19
When Jesus came to the region of Caesarea Philippi he put this question to his disciples, ‘Who do people say the Son of Man is?’ And they said, ‘Some say he is John the Baptist, some Elijah, and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.’ ‘But you,’ he said ‘who do you say I am?’ Then Simon Peter spoke up, ‘You are the Christ,’ he said ‘the Son of the living God.’ Jesus replied, ‘Simon son of Jonah, you are a happy man! Because it was not flesh and blood that revealed this to you but my Father in heaven. So I now say to you: You are Peter and on this rock I will build my Church. And the gates of the underworld can never hold out against it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven: whatever you bind on earth shall be considered bound in heaven; whatever you loose on earth shall be considered loosed in heaven.’
In the Gospel it is ofte the simplest words that carry a challenging message. In most of Paul's letters, the champion of the gentiles, assures his people that they are no longer left out. They probably didn’t even know they were left out - living as they had been, oblivious to the Judaic bubble of promise.
But when the invitation comes they grasp it with both hands and hang on for dear life despite the protests of their ‘older brothers’, who consider themselves ‘there first!’But in time, for many, two became one, as Paul loves to put it, in Christ. There is no difference – all of us can, if we wish, live happily in the knowledge that Christ’s peace is our promise too.
But Paul’s writings aren’t just Paul’s words –like the rest of the New Testament, God has had a guiding hand. That’s why these words are still so relevant today. Because Christ’s peace didn’t come along just once, or for just a few; Christ’s peace is eternally creative in the world and still making both one, except now, all too often, we are the older brother - or sister.
At Caesarea Philippi When Jesus speaks of Jonah, it is a metaphorical father that Simon Peter is asked to turn away from. The 'head' and the 'tail' of that fishy story is of a man who thought he knew better than God. Who believed that he could judge those who were worthy of being saved.
And this is where simple becomes difficult. That sense of judgement that we all have - of who deserves, who doesn’t; who is better, who is not?
I may believe that I have peace through Christ
I may believe that I have peace with others who believe what I believe
I may believe that I have peace with people that I love.
Do I have peace with people who don’t believe?
Do I have peace with those that I do not love?
I have to say not easily – in my heart I judge where that peace should be. But Jesus didn’t die for the either/or of my opinion but the both/and of his.
When Jesus died he took it all – he died for Peter and for Pilate; he died for the lepers and the Pharisees; he died for the Romans and the Jews. He died for those who threw stones and for those who wept.
Both became one – the worthy and the unworthy, the believer and the doubter, the sinner and the seemingly sinless.
The both that became one – the human and the divine – brings all humanity to the Divine peace.