Today the Church recalls the profession of faith of St. Peter, by which Peter takes his place in the rank of apostles as the first among equals. So powerful is this profession of faith that Christ used it as the foundation upon which He would build a Church. Not by coincidence, the first reading of today’s Mass is from the Prophet Jeremiah (31: 31-34) where the Prophet informs the people that God will make a new covenant with the people of Israel.
A new covenant is necessary, because the people have been unfaithful to the first covenant. Recall that the first covenant was written on stone and given to Moses, who instructed the people according to the law of God. The Prophet Jeremiah tells us today that the law will no longer be written in stone, but upon the hearts of every person. As if the law of God written upon every human heart is not personal and intimate enough for God to be our God and for us to be His people, He deemed to make this covenant even more personal, loving and intimate.
God in His Providential love chose to humble Himself and take on our human condition, to be born of a virgin, to live among us. How is it possible that the God who created all things would take on our human flesh in order to redeem all things? Such is the mystery of God. This is a Mystery not so much to be solved, as to be lived by faith.
Jesus in the Gospel today (Matthew 16: 13-23) asks the apostles: “Who do the people say that I am?” After hearing their numerous responses, all of which fail to capture the fullness of this Mystery, Jesus asks more personally: “Who do you say that I am?” Peter gives voice to this powerful Mystery: “You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God.”
Jesus’ response to Peter indicates that this Mystery is a matter of faith by telling him: “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah. For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my heavenly Father.” However, every person has access to this Mystery, to this Truth, because God has written this law upon our hearts. Knowledge of God, of His laws, and knowledge of Christ is accessible to every human person.
Jesus comes to reveal the fullness of God’s Kingdom and the fullness of God’s truth (law.) This is a very important teaching of our faith. This law of God written upon our hearts is not only meant to guide us in our earthly life, but is meant to lead us to faith in Christ. Because God is so intimately within us, indeed at the very ‘heart’ of our being, we cannot separate God, nor his law, nor our faith from any aspect of our life. A fully human life is one that integrates this law of God into every aspect of life. The law of God is not limiting or restricting, but rather opens us to the fullness of life.
Let us follow the faith of Peter in renewing our faith in Christ today. As Christ built His Church upon Peter and his profession of faith, let us rebuild our today’s society with our faith in Christ, which is always an expression of God’s law, written upon every human heart.