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22nd Sunday in Ordinary Time (Ages 6-9): Peter's Choice

(Adults, begin by reading the Gospel aloud to the child. Alternatively, you could read the first paragraph of the reflection to the child, then read the Gospel, and then continue with the reflection.)


Matthew 16.21-27


Last Sunday, we heard Peter say boldly that Jesus is the Messiah, the One chosen by God, the Son of the living God. We listened as Jesus names Peter the rock, the one who will begin to gather people together to be the church. We heard Jesus give Peter the keys to the kingdom for him to use to build the Kingdom of God on earth. This week we hear Peter's first act as the Rock with the Keys.


Jesus tries to show the disciples,

that he must go to Jerusalem and undergo great suffering at the hands of the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised. And Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him, saying, “God forbid it, Lord! This must never happen to you.”

What is the first thing the Rock with the Keys does? He takes Jesus aside, he takes him off the path he is walking, he moves the Messiah away from his mission for which he was chosen. Is this how to use the keys to build the kingdom?

Photo by Carolyn V on Unspalsh

Peter hears Jesus say he will be killed, but I don't think he hears that Jesus will be raised from the dead. I don't think Peter understands about what will happen on the third day. And how can he? It is has never happened before. He cannot see into the future. So Peter takes Jesus aside, plants himself firmly in front of him, and blocks the path.


Jesus says,

“Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; for you are setting your mind not on divine things but on human things.”

Whoa. Jesus calls Peter, "Satan." We know Satan is a name used for the devil. Does Jesus think that Peter is evil now? That Peter is the devil? The word "satan" means "adversary." An adversary is someone who is working against you, someone who is trying to stop you. Peter is standing in Jesus' way. Blocking the way, Peter is an adversary to Jesus. The Rock has become a stumbling block, something that causes a person to trip and fall.

Photo by Qinghong Shen on Unsplash

Jesus, as always, tries to put things right. He tells Peter to "get behind him." We know that Jesus is the Good Shepherd who leads his sheep, who,

goes ahead of them, and the sheep follow him because they know his voice. (John 10:4)

The sheep are supposed to be behind the Good Shepherd, following him. Peter is in the wrong place.


Peter has a choice now. He can go back home or he can follow Jesus. He can go back to his fishing boat in Capernaum or he can follow Jesus into Jerusalem towards the death Jesus knows is coming. With or without him though, Jesus is leaving, continuing the mission for which he was chosen.


Peter can save his old life and watch Jesus leave,

For those who want to save their life will lose it,

or he can follow towards a future he cannot see.


He can watch Jesus walk away, or he can leave his old life and follow towards something that has never happened before, something entirely new, because,

those who lose their life for my sake will find it.

How can he know that what he will find will be good? Will Peter remember he holds the keys to the kingdom? Will the Rock remember the parable of the merchant who finds the one pearl of great value?


So many questions. What will Peter choose? If he follows Jesus, he still will not be able to see into the future. Nobody can. But if he follows Jesus, what will he be able to see?


The Good Shepherd.

the sheep follow him because they know his voice. (John 10:4)

The sheep don't have to follow his voice but they do. Why do they follow his voice?


What will Peter do? What would you do?

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