Free Republic
Browse · Search
Topics · Post Article

To: All
Sunday Scripture Study

Twenty-first Sunday in Ordinary Time - Cycle A

August 21, 2011

Click here for USCCB readings

Opening Prayer  

First Reading: Isaiah 22:19-23

Psalm: 138:1-3, 6-8

Second Reading: Romans 11:33-36

Gospel Reading: Matthew 16:13-20

  • This Sunday’s Gospel reading takes place in the mostly Gentile city of Caesarea Philippi, which was located about 20 miles north of the Sea of Galilee. Originally named Paneas, after the pagan god of shepherds, Pan, it featured a popular shrine to him carved into an immense rock cliff. Jesus chose this backdrop to make an important announcement.
  • Jesus precedes his announcement by taking a kind of poll as to who the crowds were saying that he was. He listens to the various theories, mostly likening him to the prophets of old, especially Jeremiah, the suffering prophet, and Elijah, of who it was predicted, would return to announce the coming of Messiah (Malachi 4:5, or, 3:23 in the NAB or NJB).
  • All are asked, but only Peter replies. Peter’s preeminence among the apostles is often highlighted in the gospels (Matthew 10:2; Luke 22:31-32; John 1:42; 21:15-18). Here Jesus will define that leadership role explicitly (verses 18-19) and as one that that will last as long as the Church exists (verse 18). The first Vatican Council, in defining the dogma of papal primacy and infallibility, specifically references this passage (Vatican I, Pastor aertrnus).



  • The 1st Reading describes the appointment of new chief steward, or prime minister, in the royal House of David. Why does it make sense that Jesus’ Kingdom would be foreshadowed by (and be the fulfillment of) that of his forerunner, King David?
  • In the context of the 2nd Reading, how might you look upon some of the disasters that have befallen Christianity as potential blessings from the Holy Spirit? For example, how might the Holy Spirit use the secularization of modern American culture as a blessing for the Church rather than as a curse?
  • Why did people think that Jesus was John the Baptist, Elijah, or Jeremiah?
  • What was significant about Peter’s confession?
  • How does the Church interpret the insight (verse 17), power (verse 18), and authority (verse 19) given to Peter? What are the “keys to the kingdom”? What do they “bind and loose”?
  • What Greek word translate the Aramaic word Kepha (John 2:41-42)? Why is the change of Peter’s name significant, aside from the meaning of the name itself?
  • When and how did you come to recognize Jesus as “Messiah, the Son of the living God”?
  • In terms of the practical matters of everyday life, how do you answer Jesus’ question to Peter for yourself?

Closing Prayer

Catechism of the Catholic Church: §§ 424, 440-442, 552-553, 881, 1444-1445


Nothing was conferred on the apostles apart from Peter, but several things were conferred upon Peter apart from the apostles.

Pope Leo XIII, Satis Cognitum

49 posted on 08/21/2011 6:49:41 PM PDT by Salvation ("With God all things are possible." Matthew 19:26)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 48 | View Replies ]

To: All
St. Peter - Peter Paul Rubens

Isaiah 22: 19-23
Romans 11: 33-36
Mt 16: 13-20

We all want to belong. We all want to be part of a group. The give and take of human interaction from the very moment we come in to this world to the moment we leave it, defines our existence and our self-image.

Teenagers are “groupies” to the point that often the last person they would want to be seen with would be their parents. It’s time they spread their wings and establish their independence. Most often, once they cross the line into early adulthood, their parents are welcomed back into their world. But, the bottom line is that we humans are social animals and we are meant to be together.

In this Sunday’s Gospel it seems that Jesus is curious to hear about what others are thinking of him. He asks his disciples, “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?” The title “son of man” was a somewhat obscure title used by Jesus likely in reference to the Messiah as the perfect God/man. What do you hear, he wonders? What's the chatter out there about messianic expectations?

The opinions, not surprisingly, are varied: “John the Baptist, Elijah, Jeremiah or one of the prophets,” the Apostles respond. In other words, take your pick. Then Jesus poses a more personal question, “Who do you say that I am?” Ah, which of the above listing do you guys believe? What’s your opinion? It’s a very crucial question Jesus asks for they have been his followers for some time now.

The famous response comes from Peter: “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God!” It was not the first time that these disciples recognized Jesus for who he was. Remember the calming of the sea (Mt 14: 22-33) in which these men declared, “Truly, you are the Son of God.” But Peter’s profession went even farther.

To say, “You are the Christ,” was an answer to Jesus original question about who the “Son of Man” was. It isn’t the baptizer nor Elijah nor one of the prophets as was the varied opinions. Peter in essence said to Jesus – “You are he!” In Jesus, God has come to visit his people – the “son of the living God!” And these disciples, later to be sent as Apostles, would carry this message to the world. And Peter, the “rock” of both his person and his faith, would be the center piece around which the Church would gather.

So our Catholic ears hear, Pope Peter I in Jesus’ words – the establishment of what we have come to know as the Vicar of Christ on earth in the Bishop of Rome. But more is implied than just a pivotal position here. As crucial as the Petrine Office is to our Catholic identity and unity, the mission of the Church is established through this recognition by Peter and with him, the other Apostles.

That mission is carried on not just by the Pope, Bishops, us priests and religious. The mission of the Church is the mission of each disciple who has come to recognize Jesus as the “Son of the living God.”

The symbolic “keys to the kingdom of heaven”, given to Peter by Jesus, reassures us that the authority of the Church, though exercised by fallible human beings, is a shared authority between God and humanity. It is in Christ’s name that the Pope must speak, not his own. But it offers each of us the confidence that we know the Church will always prevail. History has shown us this time and again: the Roman Empire, Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union have all withered away. Despite great persecution and the blood of millions sacrificed for the Gospel, the Church is still here. At least in recent history, above political parties and secular ideologies. The Church isn’t perfect because it is composed of sinners but it is holy because Christ, its head, is holy.

We surely have seen some notorious and colorful Popes over the centuries.  The names of Julius II and Alexander VI, hands down the most immoral and scandalous among these characters,  and other successors of Peter during the age of the Renaissance just all the more show the protection of the Holy Spirit in spite of our human sinfulness. But among our Pope's we have seen great charismatic saints and men of heroic virtue.  Blessed John Paul II certainly among the "Great."

Jesus promised us this: “. . . upon this rock I will build my Church, and the gates of the netherworld shall not prevail against it . . .” In word and service to others we proclaim that Christ is God come among us in love and truth.

In all things, Charity. Our group identity is that of Christian and Catholic. With Peter and the Apostles still among us we have confidence to  know the Spirit guides and directs us when our own human energy gives out.

Maybe ponder one or two ways you can be Christ to others this week: to a loved one or to a stranger.
Fr. Tim

50 posted on 08/21/2011 7:16:31 PM PDT by Salvation ("With God all things are possible." Matthew 19:26)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 49 | View Replies ]

Free Republic
Browse · Search
Topics · Post Article

FreeRepublic, LLC, PO BOX 9771, FRESNO, CA 93794 is powered by software copyright 2000-2008 John Robinson