Jesus went into the region of Caesarea Philippi and
he asked his disciples,
“Who do people say that the Son of Man is?”
They replied, “Some say John the Baptist, others Elijah,
still others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.”
He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?”
Simon Peter said in reply,
“You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”
Jesus said to him in reply,
“Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah.
For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my heavenly Father.
And so I say to you, you are Peter,
and upon this rock I will build my church,
and the gates of the netherworld shall not prevail against it.
I will give you the keys to the kingdom of heaven.
Whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven;
and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.”
Then he strictly ordered his disciples
to tell no one that he was the Christ.
Recently I was asked by a friend why it is that Jesus passed the leadership baton to Peter and not John. Loved by Jesus, brave and loyal, John seems to be the most likely candidate to lead the troops – certainly not Peter. Why pick Peter? Bawdy and impetuous, Peter’s greatest and most consistent talent seems to be his ability to aggravate Jesus by saying the wrong thing just at the right time. But not today. Finally he gets an answer right. But still, no better than an average C student, you can only imagine what the other brighter more loyal disciples were thinking as he is chosen for the most monumental task, Keeper of the Keys. In one moment he goes from fishermen to fisher of men, from one of the gang to gang leader, from Simon, son of Jonah, to THE ROCK. But why pick him when there are so many better choices?
We need to remember that God does not always choose the best. Sometimes God chooses the one who struggles with being good precisely because they struggle with being good. With all his faults, his broken promises to Jesus, his denial of him, Jesus knew that he would fully understand the struggles and faults and failings of the people. The compassion and forgiveness, the mercy and the patience that the Lord showed him would be remembered and Peter in turn would have that same spirit of love and reconciliation for others. The quintessential wounded healer, Peter knew what it meant to be a sinner. He would never forget what if felt like to fail the Lord, to cry bitterly for repentance, and then, to be given another chance to do the right. Imagine the pure joy Peter felt, when after his denial, Jesus came to him and let him know that he was forgiven, he was loved, he was still the Rock and he was still going to get the Keys.
The Rock, our Church was built upon, is one of compassion, forgiveness and mercy. Not a rock of granite, but rather an unwavering rock of love. We can never forget or lose sight of who Jesus chooses and why. From the very start we see that he does not always choose the best, but, he has chosen you.