Beauty surrounds us, but we usually need to be walking in a garden to know it - Rumi
This Sunday’s Gospel reading is Matthew 16:13-20. Here Jesus asks his disciples who people say he is. I believe that this question had bothered the disciples for some time. Did they all accept Peter’s seemingly startling response?
As I told you recently, I gave up my rabbinical studies to follow the carpenter around Galilee as John, the locust eating wild man of the desert, had suggested. Many people are following him just now, but I think some are simply attracted to what they see as magic tricks whereby he appears to heal people. Yet his healing cannot be a trick as he has cured all sorts of illnesses so many times. It seems that demons obey him and leave their victims, the deaf hear, the lame walk and the blind see. These must be miracles. Then there is his teaching. He is a charismatic chap so that people listen to him, even though what he is saying is sometimes quite disturbing and perhaps uncomfortable to hear. For example, he often challenges authority by suggesting that we focus too much on the strict interpretation of the words of the law. That upsets the elite, I can tell you! After all, the Lord handed the law down to Moses for us to obey, and they believe we must follow it to the letter. Nevertheless, what he says makes a lot of sense. But who is he? Jesus certainly isn’t just a penniless carpenter from Nazareth, so is he Elijah, Jeremiah or one of the prophets, as some say?
Well, just yesterday as Jesus was teaching the crowd a couple of blind men started making a fuss. They had heard that Jesus had cured other blind persons and they wanted to be healed too. The disciples tried to hush them up, to send them away, but the men were having none of it. They just shouted even louder. But it was what they cried out that struck me: “Lord, have mercy on us, Son of David”. They were addressing Jesus as ‘Lord’ and ‘Son of David’! Now, our books teach us that the Messiah who will lead the Jewish people in glory will come from the line of David, but why would these simple, ragged, blind beggars think that this is he? Having been blind for years they don’t even know what he looks like. Then I recalled a passage from one of the scrolls we had to learn as students.
When the time came to choose a new king, the Lord instructed Samuel to go to the house of Jesse since the successor would be found from amongst his sons. Samuel thought any of them suitable but the Lord rejected them all. Instead he chose the youngest, the shepherd boy David. A seemingly strange choice but then: “… the LORD does not see as mortals see; they look on the outward appearance, but the LORD looks on the heart.” So, being blind, the beggars could not see the outward appearance of Jesus, but the Lord had inspired them to look at the heart of his message, at what Jesus had been saying and doing, his teaching and his healing. In that case is Jesus the long awaited Messiah?
At that He turned to me and asked: “Well, what do you think? Who do you say I am?
Peter is a father and a grandfather who has been retired from full time employment for a number of years