Each time I read this passage from Matthew I am reminded of a powerful and deeply moving moment that happened during my formation as a Deacon. It was a formation weekend and the leader proclaimed this passage from Matthew. He spent a few moments reflecting on the passage and talked about the power of validation. About telling how telling others how one of their most special gifts has impacted ones life, has the power to transform and change lives for the better. He asked for two volunteers to do such an exercise for the group. A hush filled the room. The interaction between these two people was not only moving, it was sacred. We were then separated into groups and were invited to take turns doing this with each other. Have you ever had the experience of having someone looking deeply into your soul and reveal a positive attribute about yourself that you knew had but was not sure anyone else saw or felt. Then to add to that how that part of yourself had impacted another person for the better. It is like being seen for the first time.
So it is between Jesus and Peter in this passage. Through the the gift of grace, as Jesus asks Who do you say I am, Peter voices you are the Christ the Son of the living God. You are not a dead prophet but the living God come to earth. While Jesus does not need it, Peter validates that Jesus is the one who the prophets have foretold. In that moment Peter acknowledges that throughout history God has had a plan and that the key element of that plan is unfolding right in that moment.
This is precisely what Paul is writing about in Romans when he talks about the wisdom and inscrutable ways of God. That God has, and is quietly weaving, this plan of salvation throughout all of human history. Isaiah says it has and will be revealed as God gives and takes away the authority of human leaders dependent how they use that power to build up or tear down God’s kingdom. It is revealed through the institution of the Church as it uses it authority given to Peter in this scripture passage to make decisions on matters of faith and morals. Is revealed in our lives as we discern, as we find out the role we are to play in this plan of salvation. Like Saint Peter, our ability to discern that role hinges on grace and on how we each answer the question Jesus poses…Who do you say I am?