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Bulletin: August 27th, 2023


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 Matthew’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.

Courtesy of Loyola Press

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