A reading from the gospel according to Matthew 16:13-23
13 Jesus went into the region of Caesarea Philippi and he asked his disciples, “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?”
14 They replied, “Some say John the Baptist, others Elijah, still others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.”
15 He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?”
16 Simon Peter said in reply, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”
17 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.
18 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.
19 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.”
20 Then he strictly ordered his disciples to tell no one that he was the Christ.
21 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.
22 Then Peter took Jesus aside and began to rebuke him, “God forbid, Lord! No such thing shall ever happen to you.”
23 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.”
Reflection: Who is Jesus in your life?
Good News: Upon this rock, I will build my church and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.
Just like the people in Jesus’ time, we have our own caricatures or individual thoughts and knowledge of Jesus. We have come to know Him from preachers and teachers or from friends. We may have read about Him in various media but the question is, “Do we really know who He is in our life?”
It is easy to claim that He is our savior, Lord, King, Son of God, or any of His titles. Yet our answer may be just stock knowledge or hearsay, not unlike the answers of the apostles who was with Him for quite some time already. It is only when we have a personal relationship with Him that we can truly know who He is. It is only when we experience His presence in us that we can understand His role in our daily existence. Indeed, blessed are those who enter into a relationship with the Father and the Son because the Holy Spirit will reveal to them divine truth.
After Peter proclaimed that Jesus is the Christ, why did He strictly forbade His apostles from telling others who He is? This is because people at that time had a wrong notion of the coming Messiah or Christ and it would be difficult for them to accept that someone from Nazareth is the “Anointed One”. The hour has not yet come for His identity to be revealed to all nations.
In the gospel reading above, Jesus gives high praises to Peter for professing in faith that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the Living God. He calls Peter blessed. In a short while later, Jesus rebukes Peter in the strongest term as Satan for being an obstacle to Him.
There is an important lesson to be learned here. We may have deep faith in Jesus as our savior and proclaim Him as our Messiah yet we might be the hindrance for the total accomplishment of His mission. By our hardheadedness and wickedness, we slow down the coming of the Kingdom. When we proclaim Jesus as Lord and savior with our lips but we continue to harbor grudges, greed and evil thoughts and desires, we are the new “Satan”. When we romanticize His message of love, peace, and justice but we don’t really work for the liberation of the poor and the oppressed, by having intellectual knowledge of Jesus but without accepting Him as Lord in all aspects of our life including our business dealings and political activities, we become obstacles to Him. Jesus then would also call us Satan.
Now we know the meaning of Satan. It can be you or me or anyone who resists the total fulfillment of God’s Kingdom.
Yet we are glad because Jesus built His church on a rock, on solid ground so to speak. Then he promised that the gates of hell will never prevail against it. This is our hope. This is what we are holding onto. It means the combined forces of all the “Satan” in our midst will soon be annihilated and God will be all in all! (1 Corinthians 15:28)
See also: Mark 8:27-35 Reflection
See also: Who is Jesus to you?