The Holy Gospel according to Matthew (16:13-19)
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 Christ, 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.”
Reflection: This Gospel is for the Memorial of St. Leo the Great, Pope and Doctor of the Church. This is a Gospel we have all heard before. Jesus begins by asking his disciples what they heard people saying about him. The disciples tell him people have said he might be John the Baptist, or one of the prophets. Then Jesus probably looked at each of the disciples and asked them, “But who do you say that I am?” The only one who speaks up is Simon Peter, who replies by making his profession of faith, telling Jesus he is the Christ, the Son of the living God. Simon Peter did not say this on his own, but from a revelation from God. Because of this, Jesus calls him by a new name, Peter, which means “Rock.” Upon the “rock” of Peter, Jesus will build his Church.
What does it mean when God gives new names to some people? Maybe it is to let them know they are destined for a new mission in their life. Peter’s new mission is to lead the new community in continuing Jesus’ mission of sharing the Gospel.
By virtue of our baptisms and confirmations, we also take on new names. At our birth, our parents name us. At our confirmation, we chose the name of a saint. Our mission as Catholic Christian sis to continue the mission began by Jesus and continued by Peter and the Apostles. Our mission is to spread the Good News of Jesus Christ as we live our lives in grace.
After Pope St. Leo the Great was named as Pope in 440 AD, he took on a new mission as bishop of Rome and successor of St. Peter. He was a pastor and preacher, fought against heresies in the Church, and defended the two natures of Christ. He took the role of peacemaker and led the defense of Rome from the Huns and Vandals.
The last part of this reflection has nothing to do with the Gospel. As a former Marine, I would be remiss in not acknowledging any former Marines who might be listening to this reflection. Today, November 10, is the birthday of the United States Marine Corps. Happy Birthday Marines! Our motto is Semper Fidelis, which means Always Faithful. As Catholic Christians, we should always be faithful to our Lord, Jesus Christ.
Action for the Day: Now imagine yourself in this Gospel and Jesus looks directly at you and as he points his finger at you, he asks, “But who do you say that I am?” What will you say? Take some time today to reflect on this question.