During his Angelus address Sunday Pope Francis reflected on the Gospel account of Saint Peter's recognition of Jesus as the Lord, urging those present to honestly evaluate their own faith.
“Brothers and sisters, what happened in a unique way in Saint Peter, also takes place in every Christian who develops a sincere faith in Jesus the Christ,” he told crowds gathered in St. Peter's Square on Aug. 24.
“Today's Gospel challenges each of us: How is your faith? Let each of us answer in our heart. How is your faith? How is it? What does the Lord find in our hearts: a firm heart, like a rock? Or a heart like sand, that is, doubtful, mistrustful, unbelieving?”
The Pope drew his remarks from Matthew 16:13-20, where St. Peter professes his faith by acknowledging Christ as the “Son of the Living God.” Jesus responds by calling the apostle blessed, and telling him “that upon this rock, I will build my Church.”
“If the Lord finds in our hearts a faith — I won’t say perfect, but sincere, genuine, then he will see in us, too, the living rocks on which he builds his community,” Pope Francis said. “For this community, the foundation stone is Christ, the unique cornerstone.”
“For his part, Peter is the rock, as the visible foundation of the unity of the Church; but every baptized person is called to offer to Jesus his or her own faith, poor but sincere, so that He can continue to build His Church, today, in every part of the world.”
Pope Francis reflected on how in that exchange with Peter in the Bible, Christ bestows a new name on him since he was formerly called Simon. The pontiff invited those present to pause and consider how the name Peter meant “rock” in Jesus' language of Aramaic.
He clarified that this term “rock” referred to God, and that Christ gives this name to Peter “not for his own personal qualities or his human merits, but on account of his genuine and firm faith, which comes from on high.”
“Jesus feels a great joy in his heart, because he recognizes in Simon the hand of the father, the action of the Holy Spirit. He recognizes that God the father has given Simon a 'dependable' faith, upon which he, Jesus, can build his Church, that is, his community, that is, all of us. All of us.”
Pope Francis noted that Jesus' Church is fundamentally based on our relationship with him, which should be one of love and trust.
“Our relationship with Jesus builds the Church. And so to begin His Church Jesus needs to find in His disciples a solid faith, 'dependable' faith. This is what He must confirm at this point in the journey, and this is why he asks the question.”
The Pope added that God “has in mind the image of building, the image of the community as an edifice.”
“And so, when he hears Simon’s frank profession of faith, he calls him 'rock,' and makes clear his intention of building his Church on this faith.”
“Even in our days, many people think that Jesus is a great prophet, a teacher of wisdom, a model of justice,” the Pope added. “And even today, Jesus asks His disciples — that is, us, all of us — 'But you, who do you say that I am?' A prophet? A teacher of wisdom? A model of justice? How will we answer?”
“Let us think about it. But above all let us pray to God the Father, that He will give us the answer,” and let us ask “through the intercession of the Virgin Mary.”
Pope Francis then lead the crowds present to repeat three times together with him: “You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God.”