RCL A Proper 16
Isaiah 51:1-6, Psalm 138, Romans 12:1-8, Saint Matthew 16:13-20

Saint Matthew’s account of the Confession of Saint Peter sets forth a triangle, a divine and saving triangle, in which each of us lives every moment of our lives.

The triangle is this. There is Jesus, who asks his disciples, “Who do people say the Son of Man is?”[1] Secondly, there is Peter, who stands for all the disciples both in Cæsarea Philippi and in every Christian community throughout time and throughout the world. The confession Peter makes for all of these is that Jesus is “the Messiah, the Son of the living God.”[2] To this confession Jesus replies and reveals the third person in the triangle. He exclaims, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father in heaven.”[3] And so, the triangle is this. There is Jesus. There is Peter. And finally there is God the Father who reveals some things about Jesus to Peter.

I said that Peter represents us, you and me, in this triangle, for you and I are in the same triangle every day of our lives. We see Jesus in the Scriptures, in the Sacraments, and in the people whom he has redeemed and in the people whom he sends to us as we work out our salvation. And, as we work out our salvation, we learn more and experience more of Jesus in the revelation sent to us about him by God.

In every situation in which we find ourselves, particularly those situations that seem hopeless or seem to be beyond saving, we have all that we know about Jesus, and we have what may be revealed to us in the eleventh hour. And my experience, over and over again, is that when I imagine that God will act to redeem a hopeless situation, God does act in some way. Often God reveals something that was previously unknown. And this new revelation changes everything. New revelation changes things for the better.

It is an act of great faith, I believe, simply to wait and not to act thoughtlessly or reactively. I have called this in homily after homily letting God be God. When we believe that God will act, God usually does act and redeems the time and the situation from our worst fears.

Those difficult situations in our lives are our Cæsarea Philippi. They afford us the opportunity to make our own confession, just as Peter did. We can say that Jesus is “the Messiah, the Son of the living God,” or we can recognize a new revelation about God. For in the world that Jesus made, hope is just around the corner. Hope is there to be embraced. God’s presence guarantees it. Only we can compromise or constrain the hope God intends us to have.

[1] Saint Matthew 16:13.

[2] Saint Matthew 16:16.

[3] Saint Matthew 16:17.

 

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