August 7, 2014 - THURSDAY 18TH WEEK;

JEREMIAH 31-34; MATTHEW 16:13-23

Both of the readings just proclaimed in our liturgy this evening have a continuing, critical bearing on the life of each of us today.  The prophet Jeremiah obviously lived and fulfilled his ministry as a member of the community of the Old Covenant, made under the leadership of Moses at Mount Sinai.  He was given a remarkable revelation concerning the future that the Lord imparted to him directly that was fulfilled only after the birth and ministry of Jesus of Nazareth.  The New Covenant promised through Jeremiah is not written on stone, for the Lord told his prophet: "I will place my law within them and write it upon their hearts.  I will be their God, and they shall be my people."  A major fruit of this New covenant is a personal knowledge of God.   This kind of understanding proceeds from the love that is rooted in the heart of the individual; it does not depend on education or social class.  For "All, from least to greatest, shall know me", says the Lord, who goes on to explain that this knowing is the fruit of God's mercy, who explicitly states: "I will forgive their evil doing, and remember their sin no more."

When our Lord Jesus asked his apostles the opinion of the people as to his identity, he was keenly conscious of the prophetic sayings concerning his mission as the promised Messiah.  In fact, his followers gave as the popular view that he was John the Baptist returned to life, or Elias, or Jeremiah.  In any case, he was widely recognized to have a special relation to God that involved a divine mission.  So far so good, but Jesus was not satisfied with this popular opinion and so he inquired further of his closest followers "but who do you say that I am?" Peter, true to form, promptly and confidently spoke up with a reply to which the Lord was to give wholehearted recognition.  "You are the Christ, the Son of the living God."

Because of the generous sensitivity that resulted from a trusting love, Peter was able to perceive a reality that hitherto was hidden for the majority of people.  In response the Lord bestowed on him a new name as a sign and promise of his future development as the rock firm foundation of the one Church of Christ.  It is this mystery of the Church that is the mystical body of Christ that brings us together in this Eucharistic liturgy.  As we take part in this celebration that makes our Lord's death and resurrection actually present not only among us but within us, may his Holy Spirit strengthen in us that same loving faith that united Peter with the Savior, the Son of the living God.

Abbot John Eudes Bamberger