Gospel: Matthew 16:13-19 (alternate reading: Matthew 8:1-4)
13 Now when Jesus came into the district of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, "Who do men say that the Son of man is?" 14 And they said, "Some say John the Baptist, others say Elijah, and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets." 15 He said to them, "But who do you say that I am?"16 Simon Peter replied, "You are the Christ, the Son of the living God." 17 And Jesus answered him, "Blessed are you, Simon BarJona! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven. 18 And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the powers of death shall not prevail against it. 19 I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven."
Epistle: 2 Timothy 4:6-8,17-18
6 For I am already on the point of being sacrificed; the time of my departure has come. 7 I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. 8 Henceforth there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will award to me on that Day, and not only to me but also to all who have loved his appearing. 17 But the Lord stood by me and gave me strength to proclaim the message fully, that all the Gentiles might hear it. So I was rescued from the lion's mouth. 18 The Lord will rescue me from every evil and save me for his heavenly kingdom. To him be the glory for ever and ever. Amen.
Meditation: Today in many churches of the East and West the Apostles Peter and Paul are commemorated. Both were martyred in Rome in the first century. They tirelessly worked for the spread of the gospel, not only to the people of Israel, but to all the nations as well. They risked their lives in the process and gladly poured out their blood in loyalty to their Master, the Lord Jesus Christ. As Paul so eloquently stated in his second epistle to Timothy, they courageously fought the good fight, finished the race, and kept the faith (2 Timothy 4:7).
Who do you say I am?
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 [which Peter describes as a people redeemed with the precious blood of Christ - First Letter of Peter 1:19], 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 into rocks - 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."
2 Day to day pours forth speech, and night to night declares
3 There is no speech, nor are there words; their voice is not heard;
4 yet their voice goes out through all the earth, and their words to the end of the world. In them he has set a tent for the sun,
5 which comes forth like a bridegroom leaving his chamber, and like a strong man runs its course with joy.
Daily Quote from the early church fathers: Only by hope, by Basil the Great, 329-379 A.D.
"'Turn, O my soul, into your rest: for the Lord has been
bountiful to you' (Psalm 114:7). The brave contestant applies to
himself the consoling words, very much like to Paul, when he says:
'I have fought the good fight, I have finished the course, I have
kept the faith. For the rest, there is laid up for me a crown of
justice.' These things the prophet also says to himself: Since you
have fulfilled sufficiently the course of this life, turn then to
your rest, 'for the Lord has been bountiful to you.' For, eternal
rest lies before those who have struggled through the present life
observant of the laws, a rest not given in payment for a debt owed
for their works but provided as a grace of the munificent God for
those who have hoped in him." (excerpt from HOMILIES
Scripture quotations from Common Bible:
Revised Standard Version of the Bible, copyright
1973, and Ignatius Edition of the Revised Standard
Version of the Bible, copyright 2006, by the
Division of Christian Education of the National
Council of the Churches of Christ in the United
States of America. Used by permission. All rights
reserved. Citation references for quotes from
the writings of the early church fathers can be
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