Scripture: Lectionary 410 Thurs. Aug. 8. Numbers 20:1-13. Psalm 95:1-2,6-7,8-9. Matthew 16:13-23:
Today the Book of Numbers give us high drama in the life of the Israelites wandering in the desert of Zin. Miriam, the sister of Moses and Aaron dies; then the people again complain against the leadership of Moses and his brother. Nothing seems to be going right. They are bored with the food given them through God’s mercy and they yearn for the “fleshpots of Egypt.” God has to appear to Moses and Aaron to reveal that there will be a miraculous flow of water from the rock that Moses is to strike. He strikes it twice thus showing doubt about God’s ability to help them. Thus he together with the people will not enter the Promised Land. It will be reserved to the younger generation among them. The Israelites contend against God and his sanctity despite the fact that God is their “Rock.”
Psalm 95 is our response to all of these happenings. It praises God as the Rock of salvation and encourages us not to contend with God, doubt God’s plans for us, or test the Lord our God with our behavior. The song is a wake-up one that helps us to praise God, to adore God, and to do God’s will while avoiding what our ancestors did not do in the desert. We are listening to the words in this psalm, “If today you hear God’s voice, harden not your hearts.”
In the Gospel we discover that Peter is given a new name and a responsibility for the church that will follow after Jesus leaves the earth. Peter is named “Rock”. It is a clear statement in Matthew who is the only evangelist to use the word “ekklesia” in a Gospel. “You are rock, and on this rock I will build my church, and the jaws of death will not prevail against it.” (The word for Church is found in two chapters of Matthew, chapters 16 and 18). We learn of the role of Peter in the plan of Jesus. Today this role is continued on in the person of the Holy Father Francis. In a historical sense, the words of the Lord Jesus endure forever. Amen.
Copyright 2013 Fr. Bertrand Buby, S.M.