But who do you say that I am?
Ten years ago the Kansas City Royals were horrible. Few people attended games, and great discontent was expressed across the land. Then they won the World Series - and the stadium was full every night and everyone was a huge fan. It’s easy cheering for a winner; not so much when the team isn’t any good. Today’s Gospel text is a striking parallel to that human phenomenon.
Peter expresses authentic faith in the full identity of the Lord Jesus, and for this Peter is given great praise. Peter’s faith commitment is no doubt built upon the incredible works Jesus performs throughout Judea. But when Jesus then tells him about his mission to suffer and die, Peter becomes a fair weather believer – he protests such a notion. Jesus then rebukes Peter, and suddenly the mood is altogether different.
How often is this the case with our own faith? We wax devotionally when we are on a spiritual high, but then shortly after encounter despair when things are not going our way. We love this pope because he says what we like, but we ignore or malign this other pope who says things we’d rather not hear. In all of this wavering, the Lord Jesus is there to encourage and rebuke, and in so doing he leads us more surely to the reign of God.