We Have Been Called to Be Prophets
There are some fascinating elements in today’s Gospel. First, We see that Jesus changes Peter’s name and upon him, Our Lord will build His church. Name changes are significant in the Bible. God changes Abram’s name to Abraham and Jacob’s name to Israel. Therefore, name changes are significant as signs of a new beginning. So Jesus is founding a new beginning with Peter.
Now, notice Peter learns who Jesus is through the Father revealing it to him.This is a key element for our time. As I always teach, we seek divine wisdom that leads us to a deeper understanding than human wisdom ever will. If you want to know what is going on in our country it is our nation rejected divine wisdom to worship at the altar of human wisdom. Human wisdom is a dim bulb compared to the brilliance of divine wisdom and this is the problem of our country.
One of the curses in the Bible is that you will be run by fools. A fool in the Bible is one who does not believe in God. Therefore, is incapable of tapping into anything but human wisdom.
One of the greatest problems in our country today is that you have a whole faction of people who live by the philosophy that the ends justify the means. They believe in doing whatever it takes to get what they believe is the way society should be. That attitude will destroy society because it is I want my world my way. True justice and peace can only exist when we do things God’s way in Christ.
That is the direction that you and I have a call to live.
Now let us look at another aspect. God reveals to Peter the truth about Jesus. In early days of the Church Christians were called prophets. As I said before, we have all been called to be prophets. We prophesy by our actions.
However, prophets also have a unique relationship with God. They speak with him and even argue with Him.
Case in point: Abraham argued with God about the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah. The fruit of that argument is understanding that there were no righteous people in those cities for the sake of 10 God would have backed off.
Moses argued with God when the people returned to their idolatry and worshipped the Golden Calf at the bottom of the mountain. God was going to start all over and Moses argued with him getting him to back off.
So as prophets we have this intimate relationship with God in prayer where we can speak and even argue with God, Peter does too with Jesus. Of course, he learns as we all do that God is always right.
So now that we see the answer to the question of who Jesus is, we can ask the question of who we are as Catholics.
We have a mission as the Church to be the agents of God’s salvation to the world. Therefore, we must do this through growing in our faith and living our faith as friends of Jesus not just as self-defined Catholics.
The messages are there in the Gospel you and I have a powerful mission to be signs of the reality, presence and salvation of God in Jesus Christ.
Everything that was the Jewish nation has been put on our hearts that we may represent Christ in all we do.
This is why I always draw us away from considering a Catholicism a system of morality. It is more than that, we have been called to be prophets.
This means that we do not only accept Catholic teaching, we argue with it as Abraham argued with God so that we understand it better. We bring our doubts to God so we can understand his action better.
For example, I not only embrace Catholic teaching because it is my job, I embrace it because I argued with it for years and in that argument I learned it more deeply.
That is how we grow as Catholics.
You do not grow in anything if you don’t argue and question it and you do not grow more deeply in the faith if you do not argue with it and question it. Go back and read the prophets all of them argued with God. The name Israel means Struggled with God.
If you go back and read the old Greek myths you will learn of humans who questioned the gods and suffered greatly for it. Our prophets all struggled with God why because of their love for God and their people.
Why did Abraham argue with God over the fate of Sodom and Gomorrah? Because he lived with these and other people and looked in their eyes and hoped there was a way for them to be saved. Why did Moses argue with God when the people built the Golden Calf, Because he lived with these and other people and looked in their eyes and hoped there was a way for them to be saved.
How are we supposed to pray, as people who look in the eyes of others hope there is a way for them to be saved.
Too often even in the Catholic Church there is a disturbing triumphalism that embraces the thought that we are going to Heaven and outsiders are not. There is also a universalism that says we need to do nothing and all will be saved. Neither has any basis in scripture or tradition. They are not the mentality of the prophet. The prophets speaks to God and says, what must I do that people can be saved.
Jesus built His church on Peter, a man who comes to understand who Jesus is through the grace from above. He must act on it. Through Peter we are all here and Jesus calls us to know who we are in light of who he is and become the prophets he called us to be as Catholics. Prophets who are agents of God’s grace for salvation of others.
So we know through Peter who Christ is. Do you know who you are?