First Reading: From the Book of Jeremiah 31:31-34
31 ‘Look, the days are coming, Yahweh declares, when I shall make a new covenant with the House of Israel (and the House of Judah),
32 but not like the covenant I made with their ancestors the day I took them by the hand to bring them out of Egypt, a covenant which they broke, even though I was their Master, Yahweh declares.
33 No, this is the covenant I shall make with the House of Israel when those days have come, Yahwehdeclares. Within them I shall plant my Law, writing it on their hearts. Then I shall be their God and they willbe my people.
34 There will be no further need for everyone to teach neighbour or brother, saying, “Learn to know Yahweh!” No, they will all know me, from the least to the greatest, Yahweh declares, since I shall forgive their guilt and never more call their sin to mind.’
Responsorial Psalm: From Psalms 51:12-13, 14-15, 18-19
12 Give me back the joy of your salvation, sustain in me a generous spirit.
13 I shall teach the wicked your paths, and sinners will return to you.
14 Deliver me from bloodshed, God, God of my salvation, and my tongue will acclaim your saving justice.
15 Lord, open my lips, and my mouth will speak out your praise.
18 In your graciousness do good to Zion, rebuild the walls of Jerusalem.
19 Then you will delight in upright sacrifices,-burnt offerings and whole oblations — and young bulls will be offered on your altar.
Gospel Reading: From the Gospel Account of Saint Matthew 16:13-23
13 When Jesus came to the region of Caesarea Philippi he put this question to his disciples, ‘Who do people say the Son of man is?’
14 And they said, ‘Some say John the Baptist, some Elijah, and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.’
15 ‘But you,’ he said, ‘who do you say I am?’
16 Then Simon Peter spoke up and said, ‘You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.’
17 Jesus replied, ‘Simon son of Jonah, you are a blessed man! Because it was no human agency that revealed this to you but my Father in heaven.
18 So I now say to you: You are Peter and on this rock I will build my community. And the gates of the underworld can never overpower it.
19 I will give you the keys of the kingdom of Heaven: whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven; whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.’
20 Then he gave the disciples strict orders not to say to anyone that he was the Christ.
21 From then onwards Jesus began to make it clear to his disciples that he was destined to go toJerusalem and suffer grievously at the hands of the elders and chief priests and scribes and to be put to death and to be raised up on the third day.
22 Then, taking him aside, Peter started to rebuke him. ‘Heaven preserve you, Lord,’ he said, ‘this must not happen to you.’
23 But he turned and said to Peter, ‘Get behind me, Satan! You are an obstacle in my path, because you are thinking not as God thinks but as human beings do.’
Theme: You are the Christ – the Son of the living God
How firm is your faith in the Lord Jesus Christ? At an opportune time Jesus tested his disciples with a crucial question: Who do men say that I am and who do you say that I am? (Matthew 16:13). Jesus was widely recognized in Israel as a mighty man of God, even being compared with the greatest of the prophets, John the Baptist, Elijah, and Jeremiah. Peter, always quick to respond, exclaimed that Jesus was the Christ, the Son of the living God.
Through the gift of faith Peter recognized that Jesus was the “anointed one” (in Hebrew and Greek the word is translated as Messiah and Christ), and the only begotten Son of God sent by the Father in heaven to redeem a fallen human race. No mortal being could have revealed this to Peter; but only God. Jesus then conferred on Peter authority to govern the church that Jesus would build, a church that no powers could overcome. Jesus played on Peter’s name which is the same word for “rock” in both Aramaic and Greek.
Spiritual rock ad living stones
To call someone a “rock” is one of the greatest of compliments. The ancient rabbis had a saying that when God saw Abraham, he exclaimed: “I have discovered a rock to found the world upon.” Abraham put his trust in God and made God’s word the foundation of his life and the bedrock of his faith. Through Abraham God established a nation for himself. Through faith Peter grasped who Jesus truly was. He was the first apostle to proclaim that Jesus was truly the Anointed One (Messiah and Christ) and the only begotten Son of God.
The New Testament describes the church, the people of God, as a spiritual house and temple of the Holy Spirit with each member joined together as living stones (see 1 Peter 2:5). Faith in Jesus Christ makes us intorocks – spiritual stones. The Lord Jesus tests each of us personally with the same question: Who do you say that I am?
“Lord Jesus, I profess and believe that you are the Christ, the Son of the living God. You are my Lord and my Savior who has set me free from sin and deception. Make my faith strong like the Apostles Peter and Paul and give me boldness to speak of you to others that they may come to know you as Lord and Savior.”