Father MacEvilly’s Commentary on Matthew 16:13-23

Text in red are my additions.

Mat 16:13  And Jesus came into the quarters of Cesarea Philippi: and he asked his disciples, saying: Whom do men say that the Son of man is? 

Leaving Bethsaida, “Jesus came into the quarters (St. Mark 8:27, says, ‘into the towns”) “of Cæsarea Philippi.” It was enriched and embellished by Philip, the son of Herod, in honour of Cæsar Augustus. Hence, its name. Before that, it was called Paneas—and continued to be so called by Pagan writers—from the adjoining spring, Panium, the fountain head, or spring of the Jordan. It was situated at the foot of Mount Libanus, at the northern extremity of Judea. There was another Cæsarea in Palestine, built by Herod the Great, in honour of Augustus. This latter was situated on the Mediterranean, not far from Joppe.

“And He asked His disciples, saying,” &c. From St. Mark and Luke we can clearly infer, that our Redeemer, when on His way to Cæsarea, turned aside to some place where He prayed for some time alone; and after prayer, probably, in the place where He prayed, and while resting, before He reached the end of His journey, which is the meaning of, “in the way” (Mark 8:27), He proposed the following question to His disciples, “Whom do men say that the Son of man is?” There were various readings of these words, but the above, which is the common reading, is the best sustained. In St. Luke 9:18, it is, “Whom do the people say that I am?” This question He thought proper to put, in order to afford His Apostles an opportunity of confessing His Divinity, that thus He would confirm their faith, and they would not be scandalized by the allusion He intended making on this occasion to His ignominious death and passion, which might prove a stumbling block to those who were not sufficiently grounded in the faith of His Divinity.

 Mat 16:14  But they said: Some John the Baptist, and other some Elias, and others Jeremias, or one of the prophets.

“But they said: Some (say thou art) John the Baptist.” Probably, this refers to those who were of the same opinion with Herod the Tetrarch (Matt 14:2), and might have imbibed the error of the Pharisees, who held, as we are informed by Josephus, that a just man could easily return to life. Whether they held the Pythagorean error of transmigration of souls in general, is disputed. They thought that when prophets returned from the dead, they were endowed with extraordinary power for working miraculous wonders. Hence, Herod says, “it is John returned from the dead, and, therefore, these wonders show forth in Him.”

“Other some, Elias;” because, Elias was, according to the general opinion of the Jewish nation, to precede the Messias, the period of whose coming they believed to be at hand. This they inferred from the prophecy of Malachias (Mal 4:5). But these parties could never imagine, that one presenting the lowly appearance that our Redeemer did, could, notwithstanding His stupendous miracles, be the Messiah.

“And others, Jeremias;” whose freedom and boldness in denouncing the crimes of the Jews, of his own day, was so like the line of conduct pursued by our Redeemer in this respect.

“Or one of the Prophets,” the distinguished prophetical characters of old, such as Moses, Josue, Samuel. It is not likely that any among the multitude, even of those who addressed Him, as the Son of David, believed Him to be anything more than a mere man, anything more than human; and hence, the opinion of such is not quoted, their ideas of Him were mixed up with so many erroneous notions regarding Him. Moreover, such as thought Him to be the Son of God, could not be classed with the people, but with the disciples of our Lord.

Mat 16:15  Jesus saith to them: But whom do you say that I am?  

“But whom do you?” &c. There is here a clear antithesis. “You,” who have been brought up in My school, who have enjoyed so many opportunities, favoured with so many blessings, witnessed so many of My miracles, whom I, therefore, cannot place on a level with the mere crowd, the vulgar herd, that follow Me.

“That I am.” He before asked about “the Son of man” (v. 13), in reference to “men,” those who see nothing more than human in Him; but here it is, “that I am,” as if to say, what think you, who know Me as I am, God and man.

Mat 16:16  Simon Peter answered and said: Thou art Christ, the Son of the living God.

“Simon Peter,” the former name, he bore from his birth; “Simon Bar-Jona,” the latter, the name promised him (John 1:32–42), and given since his call to the Apostleship (Mark 3:14; Matt. 10:1; Luke 6:14), expressive of his dignity, as rock and foundation of God’s Church.

“Answering, said.” Peter, whose faith was more ardent than that of all the rest, following the impulses of his natural and supernatural fervour, at once anticipates all the rest; and, fearing lest any one should utter anything beneath the dignity of his beloved Master, he “said: Thou art Christ, the Son of the living God.”

The Greek expresses it more emphatically still, by placing the article before all the words (ὁ Χριστός, ὁ ὑιος τοῦ Θεοῦ τοῦ ζῶντος), “Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God.” In this, Peter professes his faith in the Divinity and Humanity of our Lord. The word, “Christ,” contains the faith of both. He is “the Christ” promised of old in the Law and the Prophets, hitherto anxiously expected by all the saints, anointed Prophet, Priest, and King.

“The Son,” not by adoption, like John the Baptist, Jeremias, &c., who are sons by adoption, with whom Peter here compares, or, rather, contrasts Him; but by nature, that only well-beloved Son, in whom He is always well pleased. “Of the living God,” of the true God, one of whose primary attributes is, necessary self existence, “qui solus habet immortalitatem.” (“who alone has immortality,” see 1 Tim 6:16)

“Living,” in opposition to false gods, who, as such, that is to say, as vested with Divinity, have no existence whatever, “omnes Dei Gentium dæmonia.” It also distinguishes, our Redeemer from the adopted sons of God. After recounting the several opinions of the people regarding Him, Peter says: We confess Thee to be the Christ; Thou callest Thyself. “the Son of man;” we proclaim Thee as the eternal Son of God.

Mat 16:17  And Jesus answering said to him: Blessed art thou, Simon Bar-Jona: because flesh and blood hath not revealed it to thee, but my Father who is in heaven.

“Blessed.” They are said to be “blessed” in SS. Scripture, who receive from God some singular privilege and grace, conducing to eternal life. Hence, Peter is said to be “blessed,” because, singularly favoured by God.

“Simon Bar-Jona,” the son of Jona. (Bar, in Chaldaie, means, son.) “Jona,” is, probably, a contraction for “Johanna”—the Hebrew for Johannes, or John. For, Simon is said to be the “son of John” (John 21:15).

“Because flesh and blood,” that is, man. No human tradition or instruction, no information on the part of any human being, no lights derived from any human source whatsoever, could ever have communicated this to you, “but My Father who is in heaven.” It is the result of a supernatural revelation, imparted to you by My Heavenly Father.

How it is Peter is singularly “blessed,” on this occasion, is not easily seen, since he had already, on a former occasion (John 6:70), proclaimed our Lord’s Divinity. Nathanael (John 1:49) did the same; why not he be equally “blessed?” And here, Peter would seem to have acted merely as the mouthpiece or spokesman of the twelve. For, they were all asked, “who do you say?” &c.; he answers for them. Why, then, should he be singularly “blessed” on this occasion? The reply commonly given is, that on the occasion mentioned (John 6:70), Peter had not the same exalted faith in our Saviour’s Divinity, that He gives expression to here, or that he there expressed unasked, more than was true regarding all the Apostles, since our Redeemer corrects him (v. 71). But here, on this solemn occasion, being called upon by our blessed Lord to declare, what their faith in opposition to the false notions of the crowd regarding Him was, he freely and loudly proclaims Him “the Son of the living God.” As for Nathanael and others, the common opinion regarding them is, that in proclaiming Him to be the Son of God, they did so according to the notions of the Jews regarding the Messiah, viz., that He was the adopted Son of God, but in a measure still far exceeding that of the other saints (see note below). Hence, they had not the faith of Peter, who proclaimed Him the Natural, Eternal, Consubstantial Son of God. Note: See the footnote to John 1:49 in the NAB. Father Francis Moloney, in his Sacra Pagina Commentary on John points out that in chapter one of John the disciples are portrayed as not fully understanding the assumptions they are making in their confessions concerning Jesus. See his comments on Andrew’s words in John 1:41; on Philip’s words in John 1:45, and on Nathaniel’s words in John 1:49.

As regards the assertion, that Peter answered on behalf of the others, would it not appear from what follows, viz., the special prerogatives bestowed on him, the words addressed to himself personally, that he answered for himself principally? Otherwise, why should not our Redeemer say, “YOU are all blessed, for flesh and blood … to you.” Why not say, “To YOU ALL I give the keys?” &c. When all were asked why did not all answer, as they did severally, when interrogated regarding the opinions of the crowd? Hence, Peter replied on his own behalf. On his own behalf, he was the first to express, with greater ardour, what, no doubt, the others, too, might have said, had not Peter anticipated them; and this is what the holy Fathers mean, who say, that Peter was the mouthpiece of the other Apostles. Moreover, strictly speaking, no one could express the opinions of others, particularly on a point of such vital importance, unless be had the gift of searching their hearts, or, at least, without previous consultation, which did not occur here. Hence, Peter spoke for himself, and, thus merited the eulogium, “Blessed art thou.” “Revealed to thee;” and, probably, his faith on the subject was, in consequence of this revelation, more perfect at the time, than that of the others. What follows refers to Peter individually, so peculiar to him, designating his pre-eminence in the government of the Church, addressed to him in so marked a manner, that it is no more applicable to the other Apostles than the name, Peter itself.

Mat 16:18  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 say to thee, thou art Peter.” You, a mere man, confess and openly proclaim, under the influence of my Heavenly Father’s revelation, that I am the Natural, Eternal, Consubstantial Son of God; I, on the other hand, who am the Eternal Son of God, and can, therefore, fulfil all My promises; say to you, that although a mere man, “thou art Peter,” or rock—a name long since conferred on thee for mystical reasons. And in reward for your glorious confession, I promise you that, imparting to you a share, in a subordinate degree, in My incomparable privileges, “upon this (Peter, or) rock,” that is, upon thee, “I shall build My Church,” this spiritual edifice, which is to successfully resist every hostile assault, and subsist to the end of time. I being its great architect, on thee shall it rest, as the great centre of unity, its unfailing foundation. It is clear that, “upon this rock,” refers to Peter, according to all the laws of grammatical construction; and this becomes still more evident, if we bear in mind, that in the Syro-Chaldaic language, in which our Redeemer spoke, the words run thus, “thou art Cephas, and upon this Cephas I will build My Church,” which, literally rendered, should run thus: “thou art Peter (that is, a rock), and upon this Peter (or rock) I shall build My Church.” But the Greek interpreter, with some detriment to the clearness of the phrase, rendered Cephas—which means, “rock”—πετρος, in the masculine, in the first instance, as applying to the person of Peter; and πετρα, in the feminine, in the second instance, as more expressive of a quality, or of the exalted dignity conferred on him by our Redeemer.

It is utterly unmeaning to refer, as is done by some, the word, “rock,” to either our Redeemer Himself, or to the faith of Peter, save in the concrete, which is the same as Peter himself, gifted with such great faith, and raised to high dignity on account of it; or, to the faithful, themselves constituting the Church, or superstructure, which could not be built on itself; or, to the other Apostles, since Peter is addressed individually—“thou art,” &c.; “I will give to thee,” &c.; “whatever thou shalt bind,” &c.

“I shall build.” There is question, of course, of a spiritual building. “My Church.” His Church is the universal Church; to Him belongs not merely any one portion, but the whole Church, “which He purchased with His own blood” (Acts 20:28); “which He sanctified by the laver of water … and rendered glorious, not having spot or wrinkle” (Eph. 5:26, 27).

“And the gates of hell shall not prevail,” &c. By “gates,” is meant, strength, or might. Of this, “gates,” were symbolical. The word has this meaning in several passages of SS. Scripture.

“Of hell” (αδου, of Hades; Hebrew, Scheol). By this word, some understand the sepulchre, or death, which is the gate or entrance to hell. Others, more probably, the hell of the damned, the domains of him who hath the power of death, Satan. (See Murray, de Ecclesia. vol. 1; Fascic 11, Disp. vi.) This latter is the more general interpretation of the word. But, whichever of these two meanings be the true one, matters but little, as the words, whether they refer to death or hell—and death is represented as very powerful in SS. Scripture—symbolize a hostile kingdom, the great enemy, of all enemies the most powerful, the chief antagonist, ever warring implacably, but in vain, against the kingdom of Christ. So powerful, that it takes all the firmness of this kingdom, armed with the power of God, and founded on the immovable foundation which He has established, to resist it. In the Scriptures, the world, the flesh, and the devil, are exhibited as the great enemies which the Church of Christ has ever to combat.

“Shall not prevail against it.” The word, “prevail,” may be taken passively or actively. Passively; it means, to withstand, to successfully hold out and resist. The words would mean, in this interpretation, that all the powers of hell, all the strength of persecuting tyrants, all the blandishments of pleasures, all the errors of heretics, or whatever other means of defence Satan may employ, shall not be able to withstand the strength and assaults of the Church, or kingdom founded by Christ.

Taken actively, it will mean, to overcome. The word, “rock,” would favour this latter interpretation, which exhibits the Church as an impregnable fortress, made for resistance and defence, rather than for aggression.

“Against it.” The common interpretation of the holy Fathers and commentators, refers “it,” to the nearest noun, which is, “Church.” Although one must feel naturally reluctant to depart from the common interpretation, still, it seems to me far more probable, on intrinsic grounds, that the word, “it,” which, of itself, and by grammatical construction, may refer to Church or rock, directly and immediately refers to the latter. The context seems to require that it be referred to the primary subject of the discourse, which is also the subject of the promised remuneration spoken of. Now, this subject is “rock;” whereas, “Church,” is but a secondary, and as it were, incidental subject in the discourse (see Bouix, de Papa Tom ii., p. 173). Moreover, in the entire passage, “and” is a connecting link in the gradation of the several privileges, or, rather, in the several images and metaphors expressive of one and the same privilege of supreme authority conferred on Peter, in reward for his glorious confession of faith. 1. “Thou art Peter,” or rock, a name already conferred on you. 2. “AND upon this (Peter or) rock I will build My Church.” 3. “AND the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.” 4. “AND I will give thee the keys,” &c. 5. “AND whatsoever thou shall bind … AND whatsoever thou shalt loose.” Then, in what precedes and follows, the words “prevail against it,” “and,” indicates an additional reward, or rather a new idea or image, symbolical of the same reward and exalted privilege bestowed on Peter, to whom the discourse is directed. Why not, then, refer to him in this, so as to express, that not only is he to be the rock support, but the invincible, ever enduring, conquering and unconquerable support of God’s indefectible Church? It seems to me, that the repetition of “and,” before the several prerogatives conferred on Peter, not on his own behoof, but for the enduring good of the Church, or, rather, before the several images expressive or symbolical of the one and same prerogative of supreme, enduring authority over the entire Church, greatly favours this latter interpretation. To this it may be added, that at all times the attacks of hell against God’s Church were principally levelled at her (as they are at the present day) through her head; and our Lord, by directly referring to the rock of the Church which, co ipso, includes the Church itself, as invincible, would wish to point out the source from which the Church derives her impregnable strength and invincibility, viz., her firm and inseparable union with her head. The meaning, however, of the passage will come to the same, whether “it” refers to the “rock,” or to the “Church.” “The rock is so strong, that the gates if hell cannot prevail against it; therefore, neither can they prevail against the Church built on the rock. The Church is so strong, that the gates of hell cannot prevail against it; therefore, neither can they prevail against the ‘rock,’ on which it is built” (Murray “An. Miscel.,” vol. iii. p. 297).

Peter, therefore, being Divinely appointed, as the impregnable rock on which the Church is built, possesses supreme spiritual authority, with full power to uphold, defend, govern, and consolidate the Church, as long as she exists—that is to say, to the end of time—against all her enemies. He must, therefore, be armed with all the necessary means, that is, with all legislative and executive power, in the spiritual order, to effectually accomplish this. As supreme monarch, acting as Vicar of Christ, he must be vested with all necessary power to uphold integrity of faith and purity of morals, a power extending, in Ecclesiastical matters, to all persons, limited only by the nature of things, and the immutable law of God. If this be not primacy of jurisdiction, it is hard to say what such primacy is. It need hardly be observed, that the interpretation of the words, “prevail against it,” adopted above, sets forth, in a clearer light, the proof, derived from this text, of the infallibility of the successor of St. Peter in the Apostolic See, when addressing the universal Church, and defining subjects of faith and morals; that is to say, when speaking ex Cathedra. The defined Faith of the Church regarding the Infallibility of the Sovereign Pontiff, speaking ex Cathedra, could be proved satisfactorily from other undoubted and independent sources, even though this text never existed.

Mat 16:19  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 on earth, it shall be loosed also in heaven.

The same supreme power or jurisdiction is granted to him clearly under another symbol and image. “And I will give to thee the keys,” &c. “Keys” were regarded among all nations, ancient and modern, whenever they symbolized anything, as the symbols of power. To kings and conquerors the keys of cities were given, as a symbol of their power and authority. The tradition of the keys of any place, whether city or fortress, was equivalent to handing over the full power and authority over that place. In the SS. Scriptures we have several instances of this. (Isa. 22:19, &c.; Rev 3:7; Rev 9:1, &c.; Rev 21:25-27.) Hence, the metaphor of the keys here clearly conveys, that our Lord, on whose shoulders His Father had placed “the key of the house of David” (Isa. 22:22), had transferred to Peter the singular pre-eminence and power He Himself received, and communicated to him, as His vicar and vicegerent, the fulness of His power, over “the kingdom of heaven,” that is to say, the Church, or kingdom of the Messias, a signification the words frequently bear in the Gospels, and the signification they clearly bear here. To Peter, then, it is here promised by our Divine Redeemer, that he will be constituted supreme monarch, in His own place, over His “kingdom,” with universal spiritual power and jurisdiction, for extending, upholding, and consolidating that kingdom. This pre-eminence was actually given to him, after our Lord’s resurrection, “feed My lambs,” &c., in words addressed to him alone, in presence of the other Apostles (John 21:15–17).

“And whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth,” &c. This, according to some commentators, is a clearer explanation of the metaphor of “the keys,” showing the principal effect of their exercise. Others, with greater probability, regard this as a distinct metaphor, conveying, under a different image, the same idea of supreme authority and jurisdiction. The effect attributed in SS. Scripture to “the keys,” is, not to “loose and bind,” but to “open and shut.” Again, the universal term (ὅ) “whatsoever,” extends to more objects than can fall within the exercise of the power of “the keys.” The word, “whatsoever,” embraces, in its widest extent, all things over which the power of binding or loosing can be exercised, in the spiritual order, all places throughout the entire earth, all persons who by baptism, are made subject to the Church, all matters in the spiritual order, not excepted by the nature of things, or, by the Law of God, or the Divine Constitution of the Church. In a word, it involves universal legislative, and executive authority to rule, govern and uphold the entire Church, including pastors and people.

Although each of the preceding metaphors, viz., of the rock, of the keys, or binding and loosing, conveys, of itself, with undoubted clearness, that supreme spiritual jurisdiction and authority was conferred on Peter; still, our Redeemer would impress us with its vast importance, by conveying the same general idea, under different and expressive metaphors.

Mat 16:20  Then he commanded his disciples, that they should tell no one that he was Jesus the Christ. 

“Then He commanded His disciples,” &c. Mark 8:30, and Luke 9:21, both tell us, He strictly charged them, not to tell any one of this. There are several reasons, or motives, assigned for this precept of our Redeemer. Some say, He was actuated by humility, as He was on several other occasions, when He performed miracles (Matt 9:30). Others say, He was influenced by motives of prudence, to avoid irritating His enemies, who might be excited to such a pitch, as to anticipate the hour He Himself had marked out for His death. The most probable reason seems to be, that, although He had already abundantly proved His Divinity by miracles, and His own positive assertions (John 5:1-47), still, the time for openly divulging and proclaiming this was reserved for the period after His resurrection, and the descent of the Holy Ghost, when the Apostles, no longer liable to be scandalized by His Passion, would be able to preach and defend it, and the people sufficiently strengthened in faith to receive it. It may be, too, that He feared, if once the people embraced the faith in His Divinity, the shock resulting from His death would be too great for them at this early stage of their faith, and, if it ended in apostasy, it would render their return more difficult. This is borne out by His reference to His death and Passion, in the following verse. Hence, we find that the great argument in proof of His Divinity everywhere in SS. Scripture, is derived from His resurrection. The injunction given here is by no means opposed to the commission heretofore given to the Apostles to preach in Judea, as they were only to “preach penance” (Mark 6:12), and the near approach “of the kingdom of heaven;” but they were by no means commissioned at the time to preach His Divinity. And although He says (Matt 10:33), He would deny him before His Father in heaven, who would “deny Him before men,” this, however, has reference to the time after His resurrection, when His Divinity would be openly proclaimed.

No doubt, our Lord had Himself, during life, declared His own Divinity (John 5, &c.) This, however, He did more or less obscurely; and He knew when and how He Himself might do so, without interfering with the decrees of His providence, while issuing a prohibition to others on the subject.

Mat 16:21  From that time Jesus began to shew to 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. 

“From that time,” that is, from the time of the glorious confession of His Divinity, made by Peter, in the presence, and with the concurrence, of the other Apostles, “Jesus began to show to (St. Mark 8:31, has, ‘to teach’) His disciples … must go to Jerusalem,” as preordained by His Father, and predicted by the Prophets, “and suffer many things from (St. Mark adds, ‘and be rejected by’) the ancients,” &c.

“The ancients,” refer to the members of the Great Sanhedrim, called (Luke 22:66). πρεσβυτεριον, who enjoyed supreme authority in the Jewish Republic—“and Scribes,” under whom are also included the Pharisees—“and be put to death,” &c. Our Redeemer did not treat “openly” (Mark 8:32), in presence of His Apostles, of His Passion, before they made a public confession of His Divinity, lest they might be scandalized thereby, so as to desert Him altogether. But, after this public confession of their faith in His Divinity, no such consequences were to be apprehended. And He now forewarns them, that he freely submitted to death, for man’s redemption; thus to prepare them for it, when it should happen (John 16:1). He, probably, also had in view, by referring to His Passion, to prepare them—as may be inferred from Matt 16:24—for the sufferings in store for them, after the example of His own unjust sufferings

Mat 16:22  And Peter taking him, began to rebuke him, saying: Lord, be it far from thee, this shall not be unto thee.

The vehement ardour of Peter’s affection for his Divine Master overleaping the bounds of prudent reserve on this occasion, could not endure, that He whom he was after proclaiming to be the Son of the Living God, should submit to such ignominious treatment from the Jews. Hence, “taking Him” aside, he began to remonstrate with Him, in the warmth of his ardent affection.

“Far be it from Thee.” This expresses the precise and ordinary meaning of the idiomatic phrase (Ἵλεως σοι), “propitius tibi,” to which, St. Jerome adds, “sis,” “spare Thyself, O Lord.” Others add, “sit Deus; propitius tibi sit Deus”—May God avert such an evil, and cause matters to take a more favourable turn. The phrase is sometimes used in the Old Testament, by the Septuagint; and it has the meaning given it here by the Vulgate, “absit a te,” &c.—May God forbid.

Mat 16:23  Who turning, said to Peter: Go behind me, Satan, thou art a scandal unto me: because thou savourest not the things that are of God, but the things that are of men.

Our Lord, turning round to Peter, who was either behind Him, or by His side, when He uttered the foregoing words (St. Mark adds, 8:33, “and seeing His disciples,” in whose presence Peter spoke), “said to Peter” (St. Mark, “threatened Peter”), redargued him, in the presence of all—“Go behind Me, Satan; thou art a scandal to Me.”  St. Hilary, understanding “Satan,” of the devil, who is the chief Satan, that is to say, adversary of the human race, says, the first words, “Go behind Me,” were alone addressed to Peter, and the following words, “Satan, thou art a scandal,” &c., were addressed to the devil, who tempts us, and suggests wicked actions. But these latter words, too, are commonly referred to Peter, who had been a Satan, which means, adversary, on this occasion, however, innocently, and unintentionally, opposing the will of God. “Go behind Me,” begone from Me, thou adversary, “thou art a scandal to Me,” so far as thou art concerned, endeavouring to induce Me to commit sin, by resisting the will of God, and to forego the great work of Redemption, by avoiding suffering and death. Others understand, “Go behind Me,” thus: rather follow My counsels and instructions, than anticipate them, by gratuitously tendering advice. But the foregoing is more probable, as our Redeemer manifestly rebukes Peter. It is remarked by some expositors, that the word, “Satan,” frequently signifies (as in 2 Sam 19:22), evil counsellor; and so, perhaps, it may signify the same here, as if He said: under the appearance of attachment, thou givest Me the worst counsel. This sudden change in our Redeemer, now calling Peter, “Satan,” after the eulogium bestowed on him, should cause no surprise, as the primacy was not given, but promised to Peter at this time “I will build; I will give,” &c.

“Because thou savourest not,” &c. In these words is assigned the reason why Peter is become a scandal, or occasion of sin, however unconsciously, by placing an obstacle to the glory of God, because he was actuated by human feelings, which shrink from death and ignominy, rather than by feelings inspired by God, which would dictate to us to undergo any amount of evil, sooner than commit sin, or resist the will of God, however opposed to our own corrupt passions.

From this may be seen the obligation we are under, of trampling under foot all human feelings and natural affections, when duty to God, or a call of a higher order, demands such a sacrifice. St. Jerome observes, with reference to Peter’s primacy, as apparently affected by this rebuke, that the primacy was not yet actually conferred. Moreover, ecclesiastical preferment does not destroy the passions.

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One Response to Father MacEvilly’s Commentary on Matthew 16:13-23

  1. Pingback: Commentaries for the Twenty-First Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year A | stjoeofoblog

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