Life Of Christ:
Christ Announces To St. Peter His Supreme Pastoral Charge
Private Life Of Jesus During His Ministry
Sorrow Caused To Jesus And Mary By The Persecution Of The Jews
Jesus Triumphantly Enters Jerusalem
Jews Lay Plans To Put Jesus To Death
The Last Supper
Farewell Discourse And Prayer Of Jesus
Jesus In The Garden Of Gethsemani
Treason Of Judas, And The Apprehension Of Jesus
Read More Articles About: Life Of Christ
Christ Announces To St. Peter His Supreme Pastoral Charge
( Originally Published Early 1900's )
ONCE Jesus came with His disciples into the region of Caesarea Philippi, a city on one of the sources of the Jordan, in a most lovely, fertile, and magnificent country. In ancient times, it had been the seat of the most atrocious idolatry : here the Jewish tribe of Dan had sacrificed to false gods; here Jeroboam had set up the golden calf. At the time of Christ there was there an altar of Pan, and a temple, erected by Herod in honor of Augustus. The great ones of the world, too, like Herod, his son Philip, his great-nephew Agrippa II., and others, loved to sojourn at Caesarea Philippi on account of its beautiful situation. There they had statues erected to their honor, and their names sculptured in marble, as may still be seen in the remains of former glory. This city, which seemed to have been specially singled out by the" prince of this world" to unfold his pomp and splendor, was chosen by Christ as the place in which He promised to St. Peter the supreme pastoral charge, and where at the same time He declared the indefectibility and indestructibility of His kingdom, whose purpose is to destroy the kingdom of the prince of this world.
"And Jesus came into the quarters of Caesarea Philippi: and He asked His disciples, saying: Who do men say that the Son of man is? But they said: Some John the Baptist, and other some Elias, and others Jeremias, or one of the prophets. Jesus saith to them : But who do you say that I am? Simon Peter answered and said: Thou art Christ, the Son of the living God. And Jesus answering, said to him: Blessed art thou, Simon BarJoua: because flesh and blood hath not revealed it to thee, but My Father who is in heaven. And I say to thee, that thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build My Church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. And I will give to thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven. And whatsoever thou shalt bind upon earth, it shall be bound also in heaven : and whatsoever thou shalt loose upon earth, it shall be loosed also in heaven." (Matt. xvi. 13-19.)
Such are the ever-memorable words of Jesus Christ ad-dressed to St. Peter, establishing his primacy and that of his successors in the papacy. St. Peter was to be the chief pastor of the united flocks of Jews and Gentiles, so that, in all that regards the Church, he is the visible representative of the invisible Saviour, who sits at the right hand of His Father in heaven. He was always treated as chief of the apostles, and after Christ's resurrection, at the triple profession of his love for his divine Master, Peter's precedence was confirmed. But as the Church of Christ was to outlive that generation, and is to last till the end of time, so must the office of Peter live in his lawful successors, who are, according to the unanimous testimony of all ages, the bishops of Rome.
"From that time Jesus began to show His disciples that He must go to Jerusalem, and suffer many things from the ancients and scribes and chief priests, and be put to death, and the third day rise again. And Peter, taking Him, began to rebuke Him, saying: Lord, be it far from Thee: this shall not be unto Thee. Who turning said to Peter: Go behind Me, Satan, thou art a scan-dal unto Me: because thou savorest not the things that are of God, but the things that are of men." (Matt. xvi. 21, 23.)
St. Peter, not having yet been enlightened by the Holy Ghost, could not understand the mystery of Christ's suffering, now mentioned for the first time. Jesus earnestly rebukes him for his worldly notions, and warns him and the other apostles that they, too, will be called upon to suffer. "Then Jesus said to His disciples: If any man will come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me. For he that will save his life shall lose it; and he that shall lose his life for My sake shall find it. For what doth it profit a man, if he gain the whole world and suffer the loss of his own soul ? Or what exchange shall a man give for his soul?" (Matt. xvi. 24-26.)
Before entering on His passion, and before His disciples should witness the humiliation and degradation of their Master, Christ wished to appear in resplendent and radiant glory on Mount Thabor. This mountain is distant from Caesarea Philippi about twenty-two leagues, and is situated in the vicinity of Nazareth. "And after six days Jesus taketh unto Him Peter and James, and John his brother, and bringeth them up into a high mountain apart: and He was transfigured before them. And His face did shine as the sun; and His garments became white as snow. And behold there appeared to them Moses and Elias talking with Him. And Peter answering, said to Jesus: Lord, it is good for us to be here: if Thou wilt, let us make here three tabernacles one for Thee, and one for Moses, and one for Elias. And as he was yet speaking, behold a bright cloud overshadowed them. And lo, a voice out of the cloud, saying: This is My be-loved Son, in whom I am well pleased: hear ye Him. And the disciples hearing, fell upon their face, and were very much afraid. And Jesus came and touched them, and said to them: Arise, and fear not. And they, lifting up their eyes, saw no one, but only Jesus. And as they came down from the mountain, Jesus charged them, saying: Tell the vision to no man, till the Son of man be risen from the dead." (Matt. xvii. 1-9.)
This was the most sublime and most mysterious apparition of the Redeemer during His stay on earth. The eternal Father testifies to Him, as do the Fathers of the Old Law, Moses and Elias. The Fathers of the New, the three principal apostles, receive this testimony with reverential awe. Moses, the lawgiver, and Elias, the leader of the prophets, attest to the completion and fulfilment, in Christ's death on the cross, of all the figures, sacrifices, and prophecies of the Old Law. From the eternal Father Himself, the Son of man received the testimony that He is the Saviour in whom mankind will find their Teacher and Redeemer.
This mysterious, transfiguration of Our Lord was one of the means He made use of to confirm the faith of His apostles, as St. Peter testifies: "For we have not followed cunningly devised fables when we made known to you the power and presence of Our Lord Jesus Christ, but having been made eye-witnesses of His majesty, For He received from the Father honor and glory, this voice coming down to Him from the exultant glory: This is My beloved Son, in whom I have pleased Myself: hear ye Him. And this voice we heard brought from heaven, when we were with Him in the holy mount." (2 Pet. i. x6-x8.) Jesus, by exhibiting to His favorite apostles a glorified body, was pleased to give them a foresight of that happy change which the bodies of His elect shall put on at the general resurrection, and showed them how transcendent is the glory of that supernatural happiness which shall reward the light and momentary tribulations that the just here undergo for God's sake.