Scripture: Lectionary 410. Jeremiah 31:31-34. Psalm 51:12-13,14-15,18-19. Matthew 16:13-23
St. John Chrysostom was ahead of his time in calling the evangelist “theologoi”, that is, theologians. Each evangelist directs the sayings and deeds of Jesus by means of a theological perspective that is seen in the narrative development within their respective gospels.
Matthew does depend on Mark for his outline and has taken almost ninety percent of Mark into his finished work. Today Matthew has the steady point of view that Mark emphasized throughout his gospel. We have it a few times in Matthew. The theological point of view is this—think the thoughts of God not of humans; judge in the manner that
God judges. This is meant for both the communities of Mark and those of Matthew and it doubles the importance of such a perspective.
Matthew concludes today’s Gospel with a clear statement of the point of view to be taken by disciples of Jesus: Peter seems to be on the same perspective of Jesus when he affirms, “You are the Messiah, the son of the living God.” This is definitely an inspired thought about the identity of Jesus, but Peter turns back to his old way of thinking when he tries to disagree with Jesus’ prediction of his suffering and death. He has fallen back in thinking only on human standards and not on those of God. Jesus strongly chides him, “Get behind me, Satan! You are an obstacle to me. You are thinking not as God does but as human beings do.” (Matthew 16: 23).
We know that our reasoning is very important in deepening our faith. Though it often causes us doubts, by further pondering over, studying seriously good theologians, and blending our reason with our faith, causes us to be believers with a certain confidence in Jesus as seen in the Scriptures and in the traditions to which we belong. The teachings of the Church are very important in this area of our “faith seeking an understanding.” If we try to figure things out in the area of faith on our own, we will wind up like Peter did even after he had a brilliant inspiration about Jesus through the help of the Holy Spirit.
Jeremiah gives us the words of God that help us think the way God does. “I will place my law (revelation, instruction) within them, and write it upon their hearts; I will be their God and they shall be my people. No longer will they have need to teach their friends and kinsmen how to know the Lord. All, from the least to the greatest, shall know me says the Lord, for I will forgive their evildoing and remember their sin no more.” (Jeremiah 31:33-34). There we have the foundation for a heart of faith that listens to the reasonable words of God. Amen.
Copyright 2012 Fr. Bertrand Buby, S.M.