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  • St. John's Church

Sunday, August 23 Readings


God Speaks to Families Through the Sunday Readings

First Reading

Isaiah 22:19-23

God will remove Shebna from his office as master of the palace.

Responsorial Psalm

Psalm 138:1-3,6,8

Lord, Your love is eternal; do not forsake the work of Your hands.

Second Reading

Romans 11:33-36

Paul sings praise to God.

Gospel Reading

Matthew 16:13-20

Simon Peter acknowledges Jesus as the Christ and is given the key to the Kingdom of Heaven.

Background on the Gospel Reading

It is important to read today’s Gospel and next week’s Gospel as two parts of a single story. These readings are a turning point in Matthew’s Gospel. This week we hear Jesus name Simon Peter as the rock upon which He will build His Church. Next week we will hear Jesus call this same Simon Peter "Satan" when He reacts negatively to Jesus’ prediction about His Passion and Death.

In today’s Gospel, Jesus asks His disciples what people are saying about His identity. The disciples indicate that most people believe that Jesus is a prophet of Israel. Then Jesus asks His disciples who they believe that He is. Simon Peter answers, identifying Jesus as the Messiah, the Son of God.

Jesus commends Simon Peter for this profession of faith, indicating that this insight has come from God. Because of Simon Peter’s response, Jesus calls him the "rock" upon which Jesus will build the Church. This is a word play on the name Peter, which is the Greek word for "rock." Peter is then given special authority by Jesus, a symbolic key to the Kingdom of Heaven. Peter will play an important role in the early Christian community as a spokesperson and a leader.

In today’s Gospel, Peter’s recognition of Jesus’ identity is credited to a revelation by God. This will contrast sharply with Jesus’ rebuke of Peter in next week’s Gospel. When Peter rejects Jesus’ prediction of His Passion and Death, Peter is said to no longer be thinking as God does but as humans do.

The use of the term church in today’s Gospel is one of only three such occurrences in Mat-thew’s Gospel. Peter in this Gospel is being credited as the foundation for the Church, a privilege granted to him because of his recognition of Jesus’ identity. The Church continues to be grounded in the faith that Jesus Christ is Lord.

Family Connection

Today’s Gospel reminds us that the Church is built on the foundation of faith in Jesus Christ. Peter announces the core of our faith, that Jesus is God’s only Son. The family, as the do-mestic church, has this same faith as its foundation.

As you gather together as a family, talk about people whose faith has helped you to be a member of the Church and talk about what you have learned from leaders in our Church today. Read together today’s Gospel, Matthew 16:13-20. Talk about what you know about Peter and his importance to the early Christian community. Talk about what we can learn from Peter and his profession of faith about Jesus. Conclude in prayer together by praying today’s Psalm or an Act of Faith.

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