When Jesus went into the region of Caesarea Philippi he asked his disciples, “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?” 14They replied, “Some say John the Baptist, others Elijah, still others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.” 15He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” 16Simon Peter said in reply, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” 17Jesus 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. 18And 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. 19I 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.”
Upon this rock. As the culmination of Jesus’ public ministry in Galilee, Simon confesses him as the Messiah, the Son of the living God. This faith is arrived at not by human introspection, but by divine revelation. Because of this faith-confession, Simon becomes Peter, the petra-rock on which Jesus will build his Church.
But the high point of Simon Peter’s “career” is also the start of his fall. Because he thinks of Jesus as a glorious Messiah who should not know failure, weakness, suffering, and death, he becomes a skandalon, a stone over which people stumble. Only after he has learned from his own failures—his threefold denial of Jesus during the passion—and after the risen Jesus has appeared to him, does Simon prove to be the “rock” which supports the faith of the believers.
We find in Paul a parallel of Peter. Paul became an Apostle because God revealed his Son to him (cf Gal 1:16). Now he is in the same situation of weakness (cf 2 Tm 4:6-8). The veteran of missionary journeys and countless struggles for the faith is by now an old man, in prison, lonely, and desirous of the company of his close collaborators. He feels that death is imminent. But he is not one to despair of his situation. Faith tells him that his departure from this earth means happiness for him. He has fought the good fight of proclaiming the Gospel. The Lord has always stood with him and given him strength. The Lord will certainly take care of him as now he prepares for the final witness: death by martyrdom.
Why are Peter and Paul considered the two great “pillars” of the Christian faith?
SOURCE: “365 Days with the Lord 2016,” ST. PAULS Philippines, 7708 St. Paul Rd., SAV, Makati City (Phils.); Tel.: 895-9701; Fax 895-7328; E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org; Website: http://www.stpauls.ph.
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