August 8, 2013

The Gospel Today

Memorial of St. Dominic, Priest

Mt. 16: 13-23

Jesus went into the region of Caesarea Philippi
and he asked his disciples,
“Who do people say that the Son of Man is?”
They replied, “Some say John the Baptist, others Elijah,
still others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.”
He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?”
Simon Peter said in reply,
“You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”
Jesus said to him in reply, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah.
For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my heavenly Father.
And so I say to you, you are Peter,
and upon this rock I will build my Church,
and the gates of the netherworld shall not prevail against it.
I will give you the keys to the Kingdom of heaven.
Whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven;
and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.”
Then he strictly ordered his disciples
to tell no one that he was the Christ.

From that time on, Jesus began to show his disciples
that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer greatly
from the elders, the chief priests, and the scribes,
and be killed and on the third day be raised.
Then Peter took Jesus aside and began to rebuke him,
“God forbid, Lord! No such thing shall ever happen to you.”
He turned and said to Peter,
“Get behind me, Satan! You are an obstacle to me.
You are thinking not as God does, but as human beings do.”

Reflection (Sem. Jason Villafuerte):

Our first reading today narrates how God manifested His providence to the Israelites when they arrived in the desert of Zin, a month after their liberation from slavery in Egypt. The community had no water; some among them started to die and so did their livestock. They started complaining to Moses and Aaron. So Moses and Aaron went away from the assembly to the entrance of the meeting tent and fell prostrate. They pleaded with the Lord and were granted. The Lord instructed Moses to take his staff and assemble the community, and in their presence ordered the rock to yield its waters. Moses struck the rock twice with his staff and water gushed out in abundance for the people and their livestock to drink.

On the other hand, in the Gospel, Jesus asked His disciples “who He is for them?” Simon Peter replied, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” Upon confessing this, Jesus said, “You are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my Church.”

It is so interesting that the two readings for today speak of a typology. As Moses used a rock to sustain the Israelites in the desert, Jesus also used a rock – Peter – to build His Church, to sustain us Christians, from the time of the Apostles to our time. How rich is the mercy of God! He did not abandon the Israelites in the desert, nor does He abandon us even up to now through his continual blessings and providence.

Do we recognize God’s blessings in our daily life? Or are we like the Israelites who complained about the desert they have found themselves in?

It’s true, we might find ourselves on a desert, or our lives might be a desert to us and to others. Our desert might be an internal struggle, a difficulty in interpersonal relationship, a family problem, financial constraint, a spiritual emptiness, a loss of sense of sin, and many more.

However, as today’s psalm says, “If today we hear God’s voice, let us harden not our hearts.” Yes, God speaks to us especially in times of silence. Sometimes, we cannot hear God because of the noise within us and around us. In silence, we can feel God speaking in our hearts. The challenge to us today is to gain the confidence shown by Peter. Like him, let us whole-heartedly trust in Jesus. May this trust urge us to become instruments of Jesus in leading many others out of their deserts.

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