Today’s Gospel reading remains forever one of my favorites in the entirety of scripture. Jesus is in the town of Caesarea Philippi, the town founded in honor of Caesar Augustus, the nephew of Julius Caesar. At this point in roman history, Augustus was named the son of god because he was like a son to Julius Caesar, the self proclaimed god of the roman empire. Jesus not only establishes his divinity as the true Son of God, but also rebukes the entire social norm of the time.
We often see Jesus as an extreme radical for many of his actions and this one instant goes completely overlooked. Jesus stands up and wants people to know exactly who is, for him to reveal the truth of God and his divine revelation in this time is truly a lesson for all of us. There is no fear in Peter to be counter cultural, he does not hesitate to share his faith and beliefs. It’s time we ask ourselves, do we fear acknowledging who Jesus is because it's counter cultural? We talked earlier this week about letting our eyes off of Jesus as society. It’s time we look to the early church, to Saint Peter for the strength to normalize God again in our society. We have allowed ourselves to detach from this world if it means professing proudly the faith we all know to be true, the faith we share with the early apostles.
Jesus insinuates that this messianic proclamation is of divine revelation and thus why Peter is the rock on which our church was founded. I’ve often criticized this interpretation because it makes it sound like something must be revealed to us in order to help build the church. Brothers and sisters, God the Father lives in all of us, your faith alone, your profession of faith at Holy Mass, that is your divine revelation. Faith is the grace that was entrusted to us to share the Gospel and continue to build up the body of Christ.
Jesus, the Son of God, stands before us in today’s Gospel at an ancient pagan altar. Thus why he insinuates, the gates of the netherworld shall not prevail against it. Not only was his spiritually establishing the strength and power of the church but he physically closed the gates of hell, a prefiguration to the resurrection and his messianic ability. Jesus is the source of the grace we need to avoid evil.
Evil is alive and well in this world, the church through the authority given to it by Christ, her head, is able to help remove the evil. Jesus promises us evil will not prevail. Do we trust in this? Do we believe? Do we turn towards our priest for guidance, do we desire the sacraments for grace, do we sit and adore the blessed sacrament as the source of our strength and hope? Do we proclaim from the rooftops “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”