Today’s Gospel: Mark 16, 13-19 – Feast of the Chair of St. Peter
Today’s Gospel reading is of key importance for Catholics because is one we often use as an argument for papal authority. Jesus said, “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.” The dialogue leading up to this statement is perhaps just as important and deserves our attention as well.
Jesus confers this honor upon Peter for his response to the question,“Who do people say that the Son of Man is?” Peter replied, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”
It is odd to think that only one among the Apostles really understood who Jesus was. Think of the thousands of people who knew or met Jesus during his lifetime. Only a handful of these people had any inkling his true nature.
This tells us that even a direct experience of the historical Jesus offers us no advantage in terms of faith. Of the thousands of people that heard Jesus preach during his lifetime, it is likely only a handful would ultimately become Christians. Even Jesus’ closest disciples came to their faith through the Pentecost, not through their relationship with Christ in human form. As Jesus himself said to Peter, “Flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my heavenly Father.”
This passage is a caution for us in our own time. It is tempting to want proof of God’s existence or physical evidence of the historical Jesus. Those proofs, even if available to us, are not enough to convince us of God’s goodness or Jesus’ divine nature. That comes through grace alone.
Why was it a “leap of faith” for Jesus’ own disciples to become the first Christians?
God, grant me the gift of faith, the wisdom to nurture it and the strength to defend it.
Copyright 2016 Kirk Whitney
Kirk Whitney is a retired educator and occasional blogger. He resides in Fresno, California with his wife, daughter and three grandchildren.