Sometimes I am absolutely blown away by how God works. Just when I think I am fully in tune with his will for my life and I think I’ve got him figured out (Ha!), He takes me in a direction and leads me to places and situations that I never could have anticipated. Initially, my thought is, “Really God? What are you thinking?” As time passes and His plan unfolds, however, I stand in awe of not only the end result, but the journey as well. It is in those moments of revelation that I am reminded of Isaiah 55:8 where God says “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways my ways, says the Lord.” (NAB).
I can only imagine that this must have been what Peter was thinking from the moment Jesus called him out of his boat until…well, the rest of his life. You see, we are privy to the rest of the story, so it comes as no surprise when Jesus says in today’s Gospel, “…you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church…” We accept it as sensical because we know how the story unfolds, we see his legacy in the papacy, we are living members, stones, if you will, in THE church that he established. We don’t get caught up on Jesus establishing his kingdom on Peter because of these fore-mentioned, but maybe we should.
It’s easy to forget that Peter was a simple fisherman, minding his own business, taking in his nets from a night a fishing that was terribly unsuccessful when Jesus called him to be one of the Apostles. To the people of his day, Peter was no one special. He had no formal religious training, he was not a public speaker, he was not even a great fishermen – as scripture tells us, “they had caught nothing.” There was nothing about Peter that would suggest that he was a viable candidate for apostleship, yet alone for the task to which Jesus would eventually call him. He was…ordinary. Yet, Jesus chooses him upon which to establish his church? Really, Jesus? Really? This is the same guy who later on in the same chapter in Matthew You rebuke saying, “Get behind me, Satan! You are an obstacle to me!” after his refusal to accept your predicted suffering and death. THIS is the guy upon whom you will build your church? To which he responds: “My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways my ways” Ok, but really? This is the same guy who, on the night of your agony, said that his faith in you would never be shaken and then later denies even KNOWING you. THIS is the guy under who’s leadership you say the gates of hell will not prevail against your church? To which he responds: “My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways my ways” Fine! But really, Lord? This is the same guy who after you rose from the dead you STILL had to call to task over and over and over again. THIS is the guy to whom you are going to give the keys to the kingdom of heaven? To which he responds: “My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways my ways.”
It’s obviously not our place to question the thoughts and ways of God because in the end, his divine wisdom prevails and we are left standing open-mouthed in amazement of his masterful plan revealed. A plan that has been playing out for over 2000 years manifested in the Church we know today. We have this Church because of the long line of believers; a lot of whom are “ordinary people” who God used in spite of themselves to help the next generation to believe. This point is illustrated through the words of Pope Benedict XVI at the 26th World Youth Day: We do not believe as isolated individuals, but rather, through Baptism, we are members of this great family; “Each believer is thus a link in the great chain of believers. I cannot believe without being carried by the faith of others, and by my faith I help support others in the faith”.
Let us always thank the Lord for the gift of the Church, for the Church helps us to advance securely in the faith that gives us true life (cf. Jn 20:31). We should be so fortunate to look back on our own lives and be able to see how God’s divine plan unfolded and the ways in which he used OUR faithfulness to advance his kingdom. Calling us back over and over again from going astray. Lovingly accepting us and challenging us through his great mercy to rise up and sin no more…again and again and again. How blessed we are to be in an individual stone in this church upon which this simple fishermen turned great evangelizer is built. “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah. For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my heavenly Father. And so I say to you, you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church, and the gates of the netherworld shall not prevail against it. I will give you the keys to the kingdom of heaven. Whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven;and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.” Matthew 16:17-19 (NAB)