Thus says the Lord to Shebna, master of the palace: “I will thrust you from your office and pull you down from your station. On that day I will summon my servant Eliakim, son of Hilkiah; I will clothe him with your robe, and gird him with your sash, and give over to him your authority. He shall be a father to the inhabitants of Jerusalem, and to the house of Judah. I will place the key of the House of David on Eliakim’s shoulder; when he opens, no one shall shut when he shuts, no one shall open. I will fix him like a peg in a sure spot, to be a place of honor for his family.”
Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How inscrutable are his judgments and how unsearchable his ways! For who has known the mind of the Lord or who has been his counselor? Or who has given the Lord anything that he may be repaid? For from him and through him and for him are all things. To him be glory forever. Amen.
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.
You are the Christ, the Son of the living God! You and I are invited to proclaim this faith in our own hearts. The words are never enough. The belief has to go to the very depths of our being, just as it did in Saint Peter. We all know, even from the stories about Saint Peter, that this belief will not make us holy immediately. Peter later denies Jesus Christ and is so sad about it. But his heart and his faith was with Jesus.
The first reading is from the Prophet Isaiah and is a description of the Master of the Palace in the time of the Jewish kings and is seen as foreshadowing the role of Saint Peter and the bishops. What is important is that every society, every grouping of people, must have some authority within it in order for it to function as a society. This authority can be expressed in various ways. The ways of expressing authority in our Church have changed over the centuries. That should never surprise us. But there is always an authority in the Church and that is necessary, both at the level of human society but also at the level of being place there by Christ Himself.
The second reading today is from the Letter to the Romans and reflects on the mystery of salvation. God could have saved us in various ways. God is God. Yet God chose to send us His own Son in human flesh. Jesus chooses to leave us the Church as His presence in our lives. This is another way of God taking on our humanity. Many people believe that the Church is simply another human religious construct. We believe that the Church is given to us by Christ Himself, that there is authority in the Church which guides our beliefs.
We can imagine that not everyone understood who Jesus was. Most of these people knew Him as the son of the carpenter, Joseph, and the son of Mary. When they refer to him as son of Joseph it should not surprise us. When they refer to Him as son of Mary, we recognize that they knew there was something unusual about his birth.
We come back, always, to this personal and deeply important challenge: who do you say that I am? Each of us must answer that question. It may take us our whole lifetime to do it. May we finally acknowledge Jesus as the Christ, the Son of the living God!