Every year that I’ve been aware of the Feast of Confession of St. Peter, I’ve likely come to it with the same sleepy and benign understanding. Basically, it’s good that we benignly acknowledge that someone other than John the Baptist finally said Jesus was The Messiah. Honestly, I’ve been content to leave it more or less at that, benignly thankful for the ongoing echoes of epiphany
But today? Today it hit me differently. We’re a few days away from the inauguration in the United States, and what appears to be potentially massive political and social changes taking place along with it. This morning I found myself anxious and fearful and full of dread as a human being living within the increasing political and social tension in North America. Uncertainty has increased greatly for me, and for many of us as we look into the future of this continent and ask questions about safety and faithfulness and belonging and resistance. So what changed?
What changed was that today for the first time, I heard Simon’s public declaration in Matthew that Jesus is the Messiah and heard, well… treason. Peter said the words that declare Jesus to be above any and all other powers, figures, or authorities, including Caesar. Not only that, but in the moments after that, Jesus more or less renamed him Peter, put him in charge with the authority to bind and loose and build and be built upon. And Jesus stated that not even the gates of Hell would prevail against what was built. By the way, what was built is us. The Church.
There is nothing benign about this. Jesus’ love, which we hold in sometimes quaking and feeble hands, is the love that utterly transforms the world. Our hope, therefore, is wild and wonderful, and our task enormous: to continue in the work of resistance given to Peter: binding and loosing and building and being built upon, denying that anything or anyone is greater than the love of Christ. All this while actively resisting warfare, racism, homophobia, nationalism, classism, and everything else that is hellish in this place until the very breath leaves our bodies.