Saint Thomas of Canterbury, Bolton

Stay with us, Lord, on our journey

Cycle A

Twenty-first Sunday in Ordinary Time

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Matthew 16: 13-28

"Who do you say I am?"

Peter's response to Jesus' question did not come from the pages of a catechism. It came from his personal knowledge of Jesus, the product of much time in his presence, hearing his teaching and witnessing his miracles. Slowly, and by God's grace as Jesus points out, Peter had come to perceive that here was one who is more than just a Rabbi or a Prophet. Here was the very fulfilment of all Jewish hopes, the longed-for Messiah, "the Christ" - and even more than that: "the Son of the living God".

This was an act of faith that radically altered Peter's life and the lives of his fellow apostles. They still had much to learn about the messianic role of Jesus; they had yet to appreciate that he was to suffer and die. They had also yet to discover the demands their profession of faith would make on their own lives. To accept that Jesus is Christ and Son of God meant accepting him as their Lord, and so accepting all that he taught, by word and example. It meant following his pattern of life in total commitment to Jesus and his cause. But this would not be achieved all at once. They stumbled and they fell as they grew gradually in their understanding, acceptance and response, but they were supported always by the patient care of Jesus himself and through the gift of his Spirit.

Jesus now puts the same question to each of us "Who do you say I am?" This is not just one question of belief amongst others; it relates to the absolute core of our Christian life and faith. It invites more than a catechism answer – rather, a living response as we strive to follow his ‘way’. Like Peter and the first disciples, we too may often stumble and fall but we too can rely always on the patient support of our Lord and the power of his Spirit.