August 4, 2016 Memorial of Saint John Vianney, priest
Matthew 16: 13-23
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." Then he strictly ordered his disciples to tell no one that he was the Messiah. From that time on, Jesus began to show his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer greatly from the elders, the chief priests, and the scribes, and be killed and on the third day be raised. Then Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him, "God forbid, Lord! No such thing shall ever happen to you." He turned and said to Peter, "Get behind me, Satan! You are an obstacle to me. You are thinking not as God does, but as human beings do."
Introductory Prayer: Lord Jesus, I believe you want me to have faith in you, faith that hearkens to your words without any second guessing. I hope in your words, not relying solely on my own strength or reasoning. I love you. You continue to astonish me by showing me that your ways are not my ways.
Petition: Lord, may I know you personally through faith and a generous imitation of you.
1. Partial Knowledge: We acquire knowledge through experience. The people in the Gospel attempted to know Jesus by identifying him with others. Some said he was John the Baptist, who preached repentance and conversion like the Lord. Some compared him to Jeremiah, whose prophecies involved a new covenant that God would make with the house of Israel, one in which he would place his law within them, and "write it upon their hearts." "I will be their God," he said, "and they shall be my people." (see Jeremiah 31:33). Some heard of Jesus' extraordinary powers, and mistook him for Elijah, who was carried away in a chariot of fire. All of these figures match somehow with Jesus. But they don't reveal his full mystery. Am I content with a partial knowledge of Our Lord, or do I ardently seek to know him inside and out?
2. A Mere Shadow: Jesus does resemble the prophets and patriarchs of the Old Testament. He resembles them, but also supersedes them. None of these holy men exhaust the dimensions of Christ's person. They are rays, he is the sun. The apostles know the Lord is more than Moses, Elijah, Jeremiah or even John. "Who do you say that I am?" "You are the Christ, the Son of God." How wonderful it is to know by faith that Jesus is truly the Son of God. Do I appreciate this wondrous gift of knowing my God, Creator and Redeemer through the person of Jesus Christ? I can rest in him and find strength, hope and joy in him. Do I rest in him?
3. It Finally Dawned on Him and he Saw the Light: "Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah. For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my heavenly Father." The apostles had first compared Jesus to all of the holy ones of Israel's past, but soon saw that he surpassed them all. His virtue, goodness and power rose higher and higher, until he shattered the paradigms of measurement and comparison. He was not only quantitatively but qualitatively, much, much more. The heavenly Father shed his light, and they believed at last. I need to live in the light that has shone so brightly and continues to shine. Christ tells us that he is the light of the world. He is the way, the truth and the life. Do I treasure my faith in Jesus Christ, guard it and strive to make it grow and bear much fruit?
Conversation with Christ: Lord, in my reading of the gospels I come to admire you exceedingly, but only grace can allow me to believe. Only grace can strengthen my faith and allow me to understand and see things the way you do. Give me the gift of faith, so I might rise above those limits and come to know you as my supreme good.
Resolution: Today I will pray for the gift of faith for those who don't believe.