The Seeking Heart, F. Fenelon
Epistle Romans 12:1-8
I appeal to you therefore, brothers and sisters, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your minds, so that you may discern what is the will of God—what is good and acceptable and perfect. For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of yourself more highly than you ought to think, but to think with sober judgement, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned. For as in one body we have many members, and not all the members have the same function, so we, who are many, are one body in Christ, and individually we are members one of another. We have gifts that differ according to the grace given to us: prophecy, in proportion to faith; ministry, in ministering; the teacher, in teaching; the exhorter, in exhortation; the giver, in generosity; the leader, in diligence; the compassionate, in cheerfulness.
Gospel Matthew 16: 13-20
Now when Jesus came into the district of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, ‘Who do people say that the Son of Man is?’ And they said, ‘Some say John the Baptist, but others Elijah, and still others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.’
He said to them, ‘But who do you say that I am?’ Simon Peter answered, ‘You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.’ And Jesus answered him, ‘Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father in heaven. And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not prevail against it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.’ Then he sternly ordered the disciples not to tell anyone that he was the Messiah.
Therefore, whatever you see your soul to desire according to God, do that thing, and you shall keep your heart safe. St. Anthony
Today’s readings are a wonderful encouragement that we are capable of living for God, just as we are, regardless of our condition. I am invited to consider anew what gifts God has given me, starting with the gift of life in body and mind. Offering myself to God as I am, with my gifts and vulnerabilities is a process. The “renewing” of my mind- my attitude toward myself, others, and God, is a life-long work.
When Peter declares Jesus “the Christ, the Son of the living God,” Jesus then tells Simon his new name: Peter (rock). Rocks are hard and rough and sharp. Jesus commissions Peter and the church to prevail against the gates of Hades. Think here of an army scaling the walls to a city, breaking open the gate so all captives held by sin and death can be free. The keys of God’s kingdom is the ministry of binding evil and loosing God’s rule. This work on earth is backed up by God in heaven.
It’s interesting and most encouraging that Jesus accepts Peter’s declaration, knowing that Peter says so in faith. Jesus accepts Peter as he is and where he is. Peter didn’t wait for the right moment, until he had every question answered. Peter had much to learn about the Christ who will suffer and die on the cross. Just read the next verses in Matthew 16. In essence, Jesus is saying to me and you, “You’re rough and hard and sharp, but I can work with you. I see in you more potential than you can imagine.” As I dedicate myself to use my God-given gifts for the good of others, the good coming from it will far exceed any of my expectations. Yes, God can do more than we could ever ask or think.