“Upon this rock I will build my church.”
Throughout the gospels Jesus teaches his disciples through his choice of metaphors and similes which speak to them – and us – more powerfully than doctrines and legislations. Today’s use of the image of the rock, reminds us of the expression ‘He/she is as solid as a rock’ which we use to describe someone’s strength of character, with the implication being that that person will be immovable in his/her adherence to principles and beliefs.
Yet, let’s reflect on the image of a rock, from the smallest pebble on the beach to the largest and most intricate of rock formations. Whatever its size, each rock has undergone many changes before it has become the rock we are holding or looking at. Elements such as pressure, physical and chemical changes, tectonic processes, temperature, weather conditions and water have shaped and transformed the rock before us. And they will continue to change if they remain open to the elements.
On the recent feast of Saints Peter and Paul we reflected on the same gospel story, and we saw that when Jesus said to Peter, “Upon this rock I will build my church,” he was referring to Peter’s faith and his understanding of the Christ Mystery. Peter has a moment of awareness of who Jesus really is – the Christ, in whom all things have their being, the Centre from whom we live and it is on a life centred on this awareness that Jesus builds his church (i.e. ecclesia : assembly of people/ disciples)
“We all have some centre from which we live. People, things, and experiences tend to become our anchor point, the centre of our life. They give us our bearings and stability. They not only shape how we live but, more importantly, who we are becoming. Jesus is always inviting us to go deeper, to look within and discover who or what our life is centred on, and then to re-centre. The life of discipleship is one of continual re-centring. As the elements slowly form and shape rocks over time so does a lifetime of openness and surrender to all the circumstances of our lives gradually transform us into people who witness and testify to God’s life, love, and presence in our lives and the world.”