|Reading 1||Response||Reading 2||Gospel|
|Is 22:19-23||Ps 138:1-2, 2-3, 6, 8||Rom 11:33-36||Mt 16:13-20|
Who are you?
During Ordinary time the Lectionary invites RCIA participants and the believing community to hear and to reflect on Jesus’ teachings from his everyday ministry. This week’s readings describe Simon-Peter’s special role in the believing community.
The first reading from the prophet Isaiah recounts the events of 701BC, when the Assyrian king Sennacherib devastated Judah, forcing King Hezekiah to surrender. Through God’s action, Eliakim became master of King Hezekiah’s palace. The master of the palace carried the door keys on a cord that hung from his shoulder. The keys symbolized his authority to admit or to deny anyone access to the king. Just as God gave Eliakim the palace keys, Jesus gives Simon-Peter the keys to God’s kingdom.
The second reading continues the letter to the Romans. In chapters 9 through 11, Paul explores the mystery of Israel. Today’s reading concludes Paul’s meditation on Israel’s place in salvation history. Both the Jews who rejected Jesus and the gentiles who rejected God’s law have nonetheless received God’s gift of faith. Paul ends with a doxology praising the depths of the riches and wisdom of God.
In Matthew’s gospel Simon-Peter reveals Jesus’ identity, and Jesus tells Simon-Peter who he will become.
- Who is Jesus? Simon-Peter identifies Jesus as “the Christ, the son of the living God.”
First, Simon-Peter calls Jesus “the Christ.” The Greek word χριστός (kris-TOS) means “anointed one” or “Christ,” and is equivalent to the Hebrew word messiah. Simon-Peter tells Jesus that he and the disciples believe he is the long-promised fulfillment of God’s promise to David.
Then Simon-Peter calls Jesus “son of God.” The anointed kings of David’s line were called God’s sons (2 Sam 7:14; Ps 2:7). “Son of God” here means “the messiah of Israel.” But Matthew makes it clear that Jesus’ sonship is different–unique (Mt 11:27) and transcendent (Mt 3:17).
- Who is Simon-Peter? Jesus now returns the favor by telling Simon-Peter who he is:
First, Jesus gives Simon a new name: Peter, which means “the Rock” (in Aramaic, Kephas; in Greek, Petros). Jesus renames Simon because Simon is to be the solid foundation of rock (in Aramaic, kephas; in Greek, petra) on which Jesus’ believing community (ekklesia, or church) will be built.
Next, Jesus promises the Rock that even the “gates of the netherworld” won’t overpower this ekklesia. In Jewish thought, the gates of the netherworld opened into Sheol or the Pit, which held not only the souls of the dead but also the powers or spirits that brought death and deception to the living.
Finally, Jesus invests the Rock with the keys to God’s kingdom, like Eliakim in the first reading (Is 22:22). Jesus gives the Rock and his successors authority to forgive sins (“bind and loose”), continuing Jesus’ mission of reconciling humans with the Father.
Today’s readings invite RCIA participants and everyone in the believing community to consider who we are. Paul reminds the Romans that everyone has a role in salvation history. Eliakim was surprised to be made master of the palace; we can be sure that Simon-The Rock was also surprised when Jesus revealed his future role in the believing community. God gives each of us keys, such as understanding, knowledge, authority, and patience. Do we recognize who we are and accept the keys we’re given? Do we use our keys to open doors for others? Or do we choose to lock others out?