February 22, The Chair of Saint Peter, apostle
Who is Jesus for Peter
When Jesus went into the region of Caesarea Philippi he asked his disciples, “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?” They replied, “Some say John the Baptist, others Elijah, still others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.” He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” Simon Peter said in reply, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.” Jesus said to him in reply, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah. For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my heavenly Father. And so I say to you, you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church, and the gates of the netherworld shall not prevail against it. I will give you the keys to the kingdom of heaven. Whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven; and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.” Mt 16,13-19
The first question which Jesus addressed to his disciples, on what people say about him, has the only purpose to introduce the second one: “But who do you say that I am?” He is well aware that the thoughts of the people about him are contrasting, but what he wants to know is the opinion of his disciples who, after his death, will have the mandate to build up and to diffuse his church. He was not expecting, however, that clear, definite and illuminated answer of Peter, which pushes him definitely to advance his appointment as the leader of the future church, appointment which, perhaps, he was planning to formalize in a successive moment. The decision of Jesus is originated by a simple reading of the facts: he is aware that Peter has been illuminated by the Holy Spirit, which, during the baptism in the Jordan waters, descended on him. It happens also to the parents to become aware, at a certain point, that the sons have been grown up and the moment for them to bear new responsibilities, in the family and in the society, has arrived. From that moment the educational action of the parents is not over, but it reaches a new structuring, more mature, if not at the same level. It will be the same behaviour that, in the future, Jesus will have: from that moment ahead is mandate will have a new acceleration and the moment of the Calvary will become closer.