Lectio Divina: 2020-08-21

Here are some of the group’s reflections on Matthew 16 13-20

One

“Who do you say I am?” This got me thinking about how I get to know someone. I meet someone for the first time. I might make a rash decision about the person. I might even decide in a few minutes whether or not I like someone. I might be more wary and want to meet someone several times before I decide whether or not I want to befriend them. I might decide I don’t want to know them for many varied reasons. I might continue a friendship/relationship with that person until I die. I might trust a person with my life. I might never be able to trust a particular person. All these behaviours are because I am human. My relationship with Jesus is similar in some ways in that the more time I spend with Him, the more I will know Him and love Him and I may take longer, than others, to form that relationship with Him. Like St. Peter, I know Jesus is the Messiah and I know that because I have been given my Faith by my Father in Heaven. I also know that I have to continue to work towards that friendship with Jesus. I am weak and keep pushing Him to one side but I know, without doubt, that He will never push me to one side. He will wait for me no matter how long that relationship takes to mature.

Two

Jesus was alone with his disciples and first he asked them who people thought he was then asked the disciples who they thought he was. Peter was the one who answered. “You are the Messiah. The Son of the living God.”

Who do I say that Jesus is? Peter was so sure.

Who is Jesus in my life and all that comes with it – family, friends, church life, work, relationships?

The disciples spent all their time with Jesus – they watched him and witnessed his miracles, listened to him, they prayed with him and from this Peter knew who Jesus was. Did the other disciples? Was Peter speaking on their behalf as their spokesperson?
Jesus knew Simon’s potential. In a few sentences he was blessed, his name changed to Peter – rock and what a huge commission – on this rock I will build my church. He was given keys of the kingdom of heaven and power but later Peter became a stumbling block instead of a rock. It gives me hope and encouragement. I can get things wrong and make mistakes but God doesn’t give up on me. God created us and knows us and through his grace outer weaknesses become our strengths

Three

Verse 19, Keys of the kingdom of heaven. Jesus said this to Peter. He is saying that to me every day. I have the opportunity to unlock the treasures from the scriptures. But too often I don’t use the keys. Sometimes I may even use the key to lock Jesus out of my life. I must try to unpick the lock and let Jesus’s love flood into my soul. Jesus will never lock us out of his kingdom. I need to ask for God’s grace. I need to show the courage and faith Peter showed. The key can open up a treasure chest that will radiate pure love into our souls. Let us take full advantage of the master locksmith.

Four

Jesus could trust Peter to be honest. Peter would say what was on his mind and in his heart, in today’s passage he’s straight in there with his answer.

As Jesus asks me the same question, I answer honestly, knowing that nothing l say will alienate me from Jesus.

I am very aware though that my witness is sometimes uncertain not like Peter in today’s passage.

I hesitate in what I say about you my Lord. It’s strange that I speak more about my faith to strangers than close family and friends.

So today I pray that I am able to witness to those people I know and love that Jesus is our Lord and Saviour.

Five

We get an insight into common ideas of the time – it doesn’t seem odd to them that they expected that, for example, Elijah, Jeremiah, or John the Baptiser, would be re-incarnated.
[I don’t call him the Baptist because that word now has another meaning]

But when Jesus gets to the crunch question, “Who do YOU say that I am?”, only bold impetuous Peter responds, perhaps without thinking.

On that other occasion, much later, he walked on water until he started to think. Thinking is a wonderful servant but a poor master.

You are the Messiah/Christ, the Son of the living God.

Jesus pointed out that this wasn’t revealed to him by flesh and blood, but by direct divine inspiration.

Then the section on binding and loosing, which we may interpret as hanging on to or releasing, condemning and forgiving.

[People often write loosing when they mean losing, but that’s another story]

I don’t think this means that Peter’s judgement will determine what goes on in heaven, rather that so long as he continues to be divinely inspired, as he was in this incident, he will be enabled to see the truth i.e. what goes on in heaven, about what is to be condemned and what is to be forgiven.

That crunch question remains for me, and for all of us who take this seriously – who do I say that Jesus is?

He is the Son of God – as much divinity as can be poured into a human frame while retaining the humanity.

Humanity and divinity – not either/or, but both.

And he is able to do for us far more abundantly than we ask or imagine [Ephesians 3:20 – the single Greek word translates as “superabundantly” and I think we could usefully use that word more often!]

Six

‘Some say’

I can’t recall how many times I have listen, in the news, documentaries, or from some people’s voices calling Jesus anything except recognising Him as the Son of God, or the Christ. For me, this is a campaign from those forces of evil to eradicate the presence of God from our world, by calling him, in the best cases: historic figure, a healer, … Or brigand, leader of a gang of criminals, rebels…. in the worst. Making Him appear as just a vulgar human being, or trying to deteriorate even His human nature while denying His divine nature.

Though the Gospel is clear: the forces of the underworld can’t never overpower nor Him, neither the Church He created.

Faith is not a product of our intellect, neither is a subject to debate; it is a grace, a gift from God. Peter, like me, received that gift, (thank you Lord for it), which allowed him to see and recognise Jesus as the Christ and the Son of God. Thus, whatever people may think of Jesus is not of relevance for me.

He is the God that for love of me, and not by my merits, came from heaven to give me access to the eternal life. He is the God that accepts me like I am, with my sins and miseries. He is my Saviour, my Lord and my God.

Peter, who wasn’t perfect, who will turn his back to the Lord in fear when He will be arrested, is the one Jesus chooses to be a rock for his Church. How can he pass from fearful to courageous and proclaiming the Kingdom? Just only the presence of the Lord by his side can operate the transformation.

In the same way, I believe, we are called to be rocks for other people, and only Our Lord can produce this conversion.

I read that Church, Eklesia in Greek, means ‘convoked, chosen’; ‘the people that get together convoked by the Word of God and who seek to live the message of the Kingdom, which Jesus came to bring to us.’

Let’s be this Eklesia, this Church Jesus wanted us to be. Let’s be the rock others need. Let’s ask our Lord and God to give us what we need in each moment to be the people He wants us to be. Let’s ask His Holy Spirit to lead us in this project of life.

Thank you Lord for your perfect love for us, very imperfect human beings. Continue caring for all of us and for this world in so desperate need of you, even when they rejected You. Blessed be the Lord.

Seven

“Who do you say I am?”

On the front of St. Wilfrid’s Parish Newsletter this week Fr. Peter Randall S.J. refers to the Church saying: “Lex orandi, lex credendi”. Various ways of interpreting this but I guess the original meant that our way of worshipping shows what we believe.

The central prayer of the Church is The Eucharist and not a word or gesture is there that does not shout about our belief in who Jesus is. In Holy Communion, we acknowledge our belief, that,now free from the confines of a host without consciousness Jesus explodes into our life as we receive him consciously and surrender our total body,mind and spirit to be for his use.

But we pray in other ways and each way expresses something of our belief in who Jesus is for us.

Here, in Lectio Divina, we express our belief that Jesus is the Word of God and in the Scriptures speaks to me personally about my needs today.

Earlier, I did a lot of personal scribbling as the “Lex” saying exploded for me in the context of the passage we are praying about. However, it is far too long to reproduce here. Suffice it to share that I, for one, am a person who prays in many ways beyond those mentioned already: Christian Meditation/Contemplation; the Jesus Prayer; Eucharistic adoration; praising and dancing in the Holy Spirit; the latihan; petition and intercession ; the Rosary; prayer with and through nature etc. etc.

It will be a salutary exercise for me to continue to articulate for myself the particular belief in Jesus/God that underlies each form of prayer.

Maybe this is timely for me as I prepare for a silent retreat coming up shortly.

Thank you, God , for the gift of Faith that inspires all our prayer and for the gift of prayer through which we can express our faith. Thank you Father, Son and Holy Spirit for enfolding us in your love whichever way we turn to you in prayer.

God bless one and all in the momentous days we are living through.

Eight

The disciples are really out of their comfort zone. What is Jesus thinking bringing them to this pagan place of worship, the gates of hell, where no devout Jew would ever set foot. He asks them two questions. They ponder the first and one of them responds. When he asks the second question, I imagine a child in school, Simon Peter’s hand shoots up and before anyone else can answer he blurts out. ‘I know exactly who you are. You are not just another man with special gifts, you are God, with us, here, now, in the flesh. You are one of us, but at the same time are more than one of us. We have been living all this time with someone we knew was very special, but now I understand who you really are. WOW how could I have been so blind for so long.’ Finally it has all come together, that aha moment when all is revealed.

Jesus says, ‘Peter I know who you are too and I know what you are capable of. Now your time has come and this is what I will do through you.’

Jesus is saying to me. ‘I know who YOU are. I know that you are sometimes full of fear and doubt. I don’t need you to be perfect. I know what my love can accomplish through you. Are you willing to trust me and say yes?’

Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.