XXI SUNDAY OF THE YEAR
isaiah 22:19-23; romans 11:33-36; matthew 16:13-20
duke ellington—american composer, pianist and conductor of jazz orchestras—composed with each musician in the band particularly in mind. he said: «you keep their weaknesses in your head as you write, and that way you astonish them with their strengths.»
perhaps, that’s the way GOD works with the people he chooses as leaders and with us: he keeps our weaknesses in mind and astonishes us with our strengths; he perfects us in weakness.
how else does one explain his choice of leaders? when studying church history, and reading about some infamous leaders and the scandals in the church, one question kept popping up: why does GOD allow such leaders in the church?
we have a response in this sunday’s gospel.
in response to JESUS’ question about his identity, simon acknowledges JESUS as the CHRIST. JESUS blesses simon and gives him a new name—peter, and a mission—the rock on which JESUS will build his church.
what kind of a rock was peter?
soon after being named rock, peter misunderstood the nature of JESUS’ mission.
at the last supper, peter boasted that he’d never deny JESUS, and a few hours later, denied him thrice.
after the resurrection, peter left the LORD and went back to his boat and nets.
twenty years later, when one would think he had finally managed to get things sorted out, peter withdrew from table fellowship with fellow christians merely because they were gentiles.
by nature, peter was definitely not rock!
but the weak and human peter becomes rock when he is open to divine revelation («blessed are you, simon…»), and when JESUS prays for him (peter, i have prayed for you, that your faith may not fail…»). after pentecost, peter fearlessly proclaimed the gospel. he was imprisoned, tried, tortured, forbidden to preach… he did not stop preaching!
through grace, peter became rock.
there is something of simon in each of us. we misunderstand JESUS’ mission and words, deny him, get engrossed in our own business. GOD chooses us—keeping our weaknesses in mind—and strengthens us to be his church. he perfects us in weakness.
will i open myself to his revelation and grace? will i allow him to perfect me?