“Jesus asked his disciples, ‘Who do people say that the Son of Man is?’…Simon Peter said in reply, ‘You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.’ Jesus said to him in reply, ‘Blessed are you Simon, son of Jonah. For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my heavenly Father. As 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.’”
Most children secretly hope (and maybe even pray) that one day their parents will wake up in the morning and hear the news that grease is good for you or that French fries and fast foods do not stunt growth or clog arteries. Or imagine for a moment the doctors telling us that we couldn’t get enough cholesterol in a day. The more, the better! Just think about how our world would change if the APA (American Psychiatric Association) informed us that we could never get enough hours of video games in a day! Or that it was actually very good to spend hours and hours sitting in front of a TV watching sports rather than playing them.
Well, if we can’t get slimmer we might as well change our idea of what slim is. Right? After all, if we can’t pass the test, we might as well change the test. For example, the Dallas Independent School District recently informed teachers that they can no longer give a zero to students for late assignments! That’s one way to make “progress”; to make the number of graduates go up. But if you lower the bar, you end up stepping not over it but on it.
I would venture to say that some would consider this to be true progress. After all, a world without limits is a world without shame! Indeed, a race without limits would be a race without shame. It would also be a race without a finish line.
“Who do you say that I am?” Peter responded, “You are the Son of the living God.” Peter’s answer was man’s greatest reply ever to God’s grace! Peter opened the doors to a new world just waiting to be discovered. For this reason, he received the keys of faith. His faith enabled all of us to unlock the chains of our past – to get past the storms and floods and the natural disasters that tend to define us for life, and bring forth a new day, a new beginning, a new man with a new mission. “You are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my Church.”
The Lord did not say to Peter that you can build your church. He told him, “I will build my church.” How often have we heard the sarcastic expression, “Because Christ’s Kingdom was rejected, He gave us the Church.” I will take the Catholic Church over anything yesterday, today or tomorrow! I will take the Church above any form of government, any type of political leader (or savior), or any philosophical or scientific academy! I will take the Church above anything this world can offer.
If there is anything good about evil, it’s the simple fact that it makes good appear all around it. We should never doubt our faith because of human weaknesses. We should never lower the bar to get everyone across it; otherwise, it will only shift our problems from one end to the other; from one side to the other; from one generation to the next.
We need to call things the way they are, for “when the world goes wrong, it proves rather that the Church is right. The Church is justified, not because her children do not sin, but because they do!” (G.K. Chesterton)
Physical and spiritual storms will come our way. That’s for sure. Tornadoes and hurricanes will uproot and tear apart many families, many cultures, many churches. But the family, the culture, and the church that is built upon Peter will withstand the rains, the floods, the storms and the disasters that fall upon it! Not so with the wicked! No so! “The gates of the nether world shall not prevail against the tidal wave of the Church!” The gates of evil shall not prevail against the hands of Saints! They know how to break the lock. They know how to decipher the times. The know how to break the code!
How? By not being human but holy, and to be holy does not mean to be intelligent. “Flesh and blood has not revealed this to you…” Peter wasn’t the sharpest knife in the kit! He wasn’t the brightest star in the group. But he was willing to take a leap of faith, to go for it, and to be righteous in the sight of God! He placed the Lord above all other considerations.
We don’t need more intelligent men or women. We don’t need more professors. What we really need more than ever is a rock, a compass, a standard, a guide and a purpose that stands above all the rest. For this reason the Mass begins with a procession. The Cross of Christ is lifted high above the congregation, above our daily concerns, above ourselves, and the Gospel, the Word of God, is lifted high above the words of men, the promises of men! What changed Peter for good is exactly what can change you: God’s Word and His Loving Sacrifice. Simon became Peter when he spoke God’s word. Simon became Peter when he accepted Christ’s love. The same will happen to you!
What we all need in our life is someone who will challenge us. Jesus Christ and His vicar will do just that.
Well over a million youth are in Madrid right now for only one thing: to find the rock in their life!