Sunday, September 6 Readings
THIS WEEK’S READINGS
God Speaks to Families Through the Sunday Readings
Jeremiah laments but cannot fail to speak in God’s name.
My soul is thirsting for You, O Lord, my God.
Paul encourages the Romans to stay faithful to God.
Jesus speaks of His Passion and rebukes Peter for his objection.
Background on the Gospel Reading
Today’s Gospel continues the story that began in last week’s Gospel. Simon Peter was called the “rock” upon which Jesus would build His Church, and yet Peter continues to show the limitations of his understanding of Jesus’ identity. Now that the disciples have acknowledged that Jesus is the Messiah, Jesus confides in them the outcome of His ministry: He must suffer and die in Jerusalem to be raised on the third day. Peter rejects this prediction and Jesus rebukes Him severely, calling Him “Satan.” In opposing this aspect of Jesus’ mission, Peter shows that he is no longer speaking based on the revelation from God but as a human being. Jesus then teaches all of the disciples about the difficult path of discipleship: to be Christ’s disciple is to follow in His way of the cross.
Peter could not yet understand what it meant to call Jesus the Messiah. It is unlikely that the other disciples understood any better. Messianic expectations were a common aspect of first-century Judaism. Under Roman occupation, many in Israel hoped and prayed that God would send a Messiah to free the Jews from Roman oppression. The common view was that the Messiah would be a political figure, a king that would free Israel from Roman rule. This is perhaps what Peter envisioned when he was led to recognize Jesus as the Messiah. In this passage, however, Jesus is beginning to teach His disciples that he would be the Messiah in a different way.
Jesus would be more like the suffering servant described by the prophet Isaiah than the politi-cal liberator. Those who would be Jesus' disciples would be called to a similar life of service. Perhaps this is what Peter feared most in Jesus’ prediction of his Passion. He whom Jesus had called “rock” would also be called upon to offer himself in sacrifice and service to others. Christian leaders today are still called to sacrifice and serve others as Jesus did.
Peter was expecting a Messiah that would carry out a different plan than the one Jesus had explained. Jesus was indeed the Messiah, but His life and death would show a different understanding of what it means to be the Messiah. We too have expectations of God and our own ideas about what we think God ought to be doing in our world. Like Peter we may risk limiting our image of God by thinking only in human ways. God’s plan is always more than we can ever imagine.
As you gather as a family, talk about what we expect God to be doing in our world and in our family life. Then read today’s Gospel, Matthew 16:21-27. Why do you think Peter was so upset by what Jesus was saying? Notice how Jesus reprimands Peter. Do we sometimes forget to let God be God for us? That is, do we sometimes get discouraged because God doesn’t act in our world in the ways that we expect? Pray together that your family will remember that God is always working for the world’s salvation in ways that are beyond our human imaginings. Conclude by praying together today’s Psalm, Psalm 63.