Listen to or read a Reflection for Monday 29 June 2020, the Festival of Peter and Paul.
Now when Jesus came into the district of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, ‘Who do people say that the Son of Man is?’ And they said, ‘Some say John the Baptist, but others Elijah, and still others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.’ He said to them, ‘But who do you say that I am?’ Simon Peter answered, ‘You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.’ And Jesus answered him, ‘Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father in heaven. And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not prevail against it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.’Matthew 16:13-19
But who do you say that I am?
That is a question that is very much associated with the Festival of Peter and Paul, because this is the festival in the Church’s calendar that is most associated with the ordination of deacons and priests.
All of those who have accepted God’s call in their life, and have made the long arduous journey to ordination, must have an answer to this question, and that answer needs to be the same as Peter’s.
Jesus asked the apostle whom he would rename ‘Peter’ (meaning rock) to set aside the view of the crowds, and make his own declaration of faith.
Those to be ordained deacon or priest stand before their Bishop, their family and friends and the whole of the Church of Christ and make a lot of declarations and promises.
Those declarations and promises sound like an employment contract turned into a litany, but … in fact … they are asking each candidate for ordination the question that Jesus asked of Simon Peter – who do you say that I am?
Of course, Jesus does not only ask that question of those who are about to enter the formal ministerial life … he also asks that question of us.
So many times I have witnessed people being asked about their churchgoing or their Christian beliefs, and so many times I have heard replies designed to ‘cloud the issue’, to soften the straightforward truth, to avoid professing a commitment to Jesus Christ.
Have you ever done that?
Today, Jesus is giving us the opportunity to think again.
Today, he is reminding us of that momentous question … but who do you say that I am?
Today, we are being given the chance to set aside doubt and uncertainty, embarrassment and shyness, and shout from the rooftops: ‘You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.’
That moment of commitment led simple, humble Peter down a very different path in life; you never know, perhaps God has got big plans for you too.
Or … perhaps God just wants you to shine out as his light in this community, sharing his love with all you meet.
Whichever way it plays out, the decision is God’s alone, we just have to be ready for the moment when he asks us that question: But … who do you say that I am?