My Dear Sisters and Brothers! The Gospel passage from St Matthew, which we have just heard, shows us Peter who made a faith confession too. When Jesus asked his disciples: ‘Who do you say I am?’ the apostle answered: ‘You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.’ We know that it was the correct answer. However Jesus didn’t give Peter a high distinction because it wasn’t an exam. It was about God dwelling in the midst of people. That’s why what Jesus did was introducing the group of his disciples present there and the generations of his disciples to come, we present here are among those disciples too, to the mystery which was already growing in Peter’s soul. Let’s listen to the words of Jesus again: ‘Simon son of Jonah, you are a happy man! Because it was not flesh and blood that revealed this to you but my Father in heaven.’ What was happening in Peter was affecting not just his intellect but also his will and his heart. Peter had entrusted his life to Jesus. How did the Father in heaven reveal to Peter what the apostle confessed that day? There was not a big revelation event yet. The glorious day of the Transfiguration was still to come. However we can say that Peter’s confession goes back to the day when Jesus was baptised in the Jordan by John the Baptist.
Peter says: ‘You are Christ.’ Christ means anointed. Jesus was indeed anointed at his baptism when the Holy Spirit ascended upon him.
Peter says: ‘You are the Son of the living God.’ When Jesus was baptised the voice of the Father was heard: ‘You are my Son, the beloved, my favour rests on him.’
How did Peter know about it? He wasn’t there when Jesus was baptised. But John the Baptist was. John the Baptised passed this onto his disciples, some of whom became the disciples of Jesus. They must have passed it onto their fellow disciples, among whom was Peter. How do we call this process of passing something on? We call it tradition. Tradition is not something old and flat. Tradition in the Christian sense is something always new and fresh, something you receive with excitement and gratitude. You are so excited and grateful for it that you don’t want it to die with you. Therefore you too pass it onto the next generation.
What we have received from the previous generation and what we want to pass onto the generation which will come after us is not academic knowledge. It is not a biography of Jesus. It is the Living Word of God. It is the Living Word of God because the Risen Lord is living. He is in our midst.
The Apostles didn’t learn about Jesus by distance learning. They learnt about Jesus because Jesus invited them to be part of his life. For us today the Church is about being part of Jesus’ life. In the Church we receive and give our faith, hope and love for Jesus. It is here, in this community of disciples, that the Father in heaven reveals to us the great mysteries of Jesus. This revelation which keeps occurring in our midst gives us grace to mean when we say: ‘Jesus is Lord.’ When we say: ‘You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.’ Because we mean what we say we are also graced to entrust our life to Jesus.