Saturday, 22 August 2020 11:47

Who’s that behind the mask?

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21OTAWeb374aWhen Jesus came to the region of Caesarea Philippi he put this question to the 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 to 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.’ Then he gave the disciples strict orders not to tell anyone that he was the Christ. (Matthew 16:13-20)

Meeting people wearing masks can be a bit of a challenge. Often it’s hard enough to correctly match names and faces. Now, when half the face is covered, that challenge seems to have doubled. Who is that behind the mask?

There’s a similar sense of confusion at the beginning of this Sunday’s gospel. Who is Jesus?  All sorts of answers emerge when Jesus asks the disciples who other people think he is. Then he asks the disciples who they think he is. It’s Peter who blurts out his answer, “You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God”.

Jesus says Peter is ‘a happy man’ because he has seen beyond the surface to perceive God at work in Jesus. This same Peter whose faith faltered when he was buffeted by the wind and waves in the Gospel two weeks ago has now shown his openness to God and recognises Jesus for who he is. But this is not the end of Peter’s story. There are ups and downs in his response, as we will see next Sunday when this ‘rock of faith’ becomes a ‘stumbling block’ to God’s purpose. In spite of that, Jesus names Peter as the ‘rock’ on which he will build the church. Peter has a new name and a new vocation.

Peter is a lot like us. We really want to believe, to become the presence of God, but we don’t always seem to be able to do it. We have great moments of faith and moments in which we are deeply in tune with the heart of God. Most of us also have moments when we fall back into narrow and harsh ways that cannot hold the power of God’s love. But the Gospel reassures us that, in spite of our weakness and the many ways in which we may be found wanting, God is still close to us and faith is a journey, not a destination.

But maybe we also have to ask if there are ways in which we mask or hide God’s presence in us; if there is a judgement, an attitude or a way of acting we need to take off so that God’s presence can shine out through us.

Join us in celebrating at home this Sunday using the links below.

Celebrating At Home for 21st Sunday in Ordinary Time PDF   
Celebrating At Home for 21st Sunday in Ordinary Time iPhone & iPad

Lectio Divina for 21st Sunday in Ordinary Time PDF    
Lectio Divina for 21st Sunday in Ordinary Time iPhone & iPad


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