Bulletin: Aug 27, 2017
Over the past several weeks, Matthew’s Gospel has shown us a variety of Jesus’ miracles: multiplying fish and bread, walking on water, and expelling demons. Thousands of people have witnessed Jesus’ miraculous powers. Yet today, when Peter professes his faith in Jesus as the Messiah, Jesus swears him to secrecy. We might wonder at Jesus’ gag order after his very public miracles. Saint Paul’s Letter to the Romans captures our curiosity: “How inscrutable are his judgments and how unsearchable his ways!” Today’s readings ask us to have faith in a marvelous God who guides us in ways we cannot fully understand. The readings from Isaiah and the Gospel both show us times when the Lord designates earthly leaders. Eliakim and Peter are fallible men, yet God entrusts them with far-reaching, even eternal, responsibility. Trusting God’s wisdom, we pray for our leaders and join together to worship the Lord.
WHAT’S IN A NAME?
In a dramatic moment, Jesus gives Simon a new name: Peter, the rock. The account of Simon’s new name is told differently in other Gospels. In John and Mark, Jesus renames Simon upon first meeting him and calling him to be one of the Twelve. Here in Matthew’s account, however, Jesus changes Simon into Peter only after he professes his faith in Jesus as the Messiah. Peter’s experience helps us reflect on dramatic moments in our own lives: “What is a personal moment that affected me so radically that I seemed to become a new person? What transformative experience changed my name, either literally or figuratively?”
Sometimes a name change is built into major life moments, naturally flowing from birth, adoption, Confirmation, profession of religious vows, or marriage. But imagine if someone gave you a new name, without any warning, and without consulting you. Renaming someone is an extraordinary act. Jesus surely knows this, and renames only one of his disciples. Simon is the only disciple Jesus sets apart in this way. While the Gospels gradually reveal many of Simon Peter’s character flaws, we constantly keep in mind the day Jesus called him rock and entrusted him with the path to salvation.
CALLED BY NAME
Jesus never revokes Peter’s keys to the kingdom of heaven, even after Peter denies him during the Passion of the Lord. Jesus’ call is as immutable as stone. And so it is with each of us. At Baptism, the very first question the minister asks is “What name do you give your child?” As we are reborn in the waters of Baptism, in the name of Jesus, we receive God’s call to live in the light of Christ. Our call is irrevocable. We can do nothing to erase God’s personal call. Even if we should deny Christ himself, as Peter did, the Lord continues to love us and to desire our own love in return.
Today’s Readings: Is 22:19–23; Ps 138:1–3, 6, 8; Rom 11:33–36; Mt 16:13–20