Now when Jesus came into the district of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?” And they said, “Some say John the Baptist, but others Elijah, and still others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.” He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?”
Simon Peter answered, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.”And 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. And 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.
I 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.”
New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved.
In the Scripture readings for this first week of Lent, Jesus has 1) condensed the Ten Commandments into the command to love God and neighbor equally; 2) warned us that practicing our faith meets resistance within and without, but grace can prevail; prophets like Jonah have pointed to Jesus, who 3) calls us to repent and live a graced life of love.
Today Jesus prepares for his eventual departure by selecting Peter as the rock upon whom the good news of Jesus rests. Through that same rock will flow the living water of forgiveness and sanctity. We also see water from the rock in Ex 17:1-7 and Jesus as the source of living waters in Jn 4:1-10.
Jesus does not leave us orphans to face life alone. We have a community to birth us, to educate us and to empower us to bring the kingdom of God closer to reality. Now the challenge is to live it.
—Fr. Karl Voelker, SJ, is on the staff of the Bellarmine Jesuit Retreat House in Barrington, IL.
Lord, you know that I like Mother Teresa’s phrase “Do something beautiful for God today.” I cannot paint landscapes nor do I have $20 bills to spare, but I can smile. I can talk to that person whom others seem to avoid. I can give a compliment to someone whom I often overlook. Gee, I can do beautiful things!
—Fr. Karl Voelker, SJ
Please share the Good Word with your friends!