The Confession of St. Peter
January 18, 2018 A+D
In the Name of the Father and of the +Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
The confession of St. Peter is immediately connected to the failure of St. Peter. What flesh and blood did not reveal to him was easily dismissed by flesh and blood. The same man who confesses that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the Living God, turns around and speaks for Satan. The failure is as important as the confession. It shows us why Jesus must be the Christ. He must be the Christ because Peter’s mind, like all of ours, returns again and again to the things of men. Peter needs redemption.
So also does Peter need constant catechesis on the things of God. The things of man are avoiding pain, increasing pleasure, and seeking glory. They include a constant fight for advantages over others, secret knowledge, increased wealth, and luxury.
The things of God, that which Peter and we all should ponder, are the Son of Man, the Christ, suffering many things, being rejected, being killed, and after three days rising again. We need constant catechesis on these things because they are not natural to us in our current state. Our flesh rallies against them and seeks an easier way.
Peter rightly discerns that the things of God are not only bad for Jesus but that they will also be bad for him. The student is not about the teacher. The way that Jesus goes is the way that His disciples will go. On the mount of transfiguration Peter will try to get Jesus to stay put, to avoid the cross. So also here, Peter thinks Jesus is being foolish and there is a better, an easier way.
There is no easier way. This is what it takes for God the Father to win back the world from the devil. There is no easier way for us either for the things of men always betray us. They cannot satisfy us. The commandments are meant to rebuke and teach us. We need to be constantly reminded what is good because we don’t know what is good. We want to worship ourselves and we are obsessed with our needs. We think it is good to take care of ourselves, that we have a right to happiness and comfort and health. We think we’re owed certain things. Thus do we find myriad ways to excuse ourselves, to pretend that we aren’t hurting anyone or that there was no choice or that it is just.
The Law teaches us that we don’t need to take care of ourselves. We should trust God. We should stop our idolatry. God will take care of us. He promised to. In the Law, we learn that it is good not to take care of ourselves, but to take care of others, to give ourselves and our stuff away. Jesus doesn’t call us to our best life now. He calls us to the cross. The purpose of life isn’t to live long or to maximize pleasure. The purpose of life is know God, to live in and by His grace, to be content with what He gives and to learn to trust that He works all things together for good. The purpose of life is to be in fellowship with the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit.
The story of Jesus Christ is not a tragedy. It is a love story. The things of God are the bloody, stinking Temple that allows men to be cleansed and purified that they might come into God’s presences with their petitions and praise. Do you not know that Jesus must be among His Father’s things? The things of God are a ram caught in the thicket who dies instead of Isaac. They are a virgin and an old lady conceiving sons who will both be martyred, a sword that pierces souls to let idolatry out and let the Holy Spirit in. The things of God are the Lord’s exodus from this world by means of the cross. This is what Moses and Elijah contemplate and ponder in their glory. This is what makes the angels sing. And this is what Satan protests. The Lord goes to the cross without any bitterness or regret. He is pleased to obey His Father and win us for Himself. In this, the Lord reveals Himself to us that might confess, with Peter and all the Church, that He is the Christ the Son of the Living God – not the one we deserve but the one we need.
In +Jesus’ Name. Amen.