Sunday’s Gospel begins with Jesus asking the Apostles, “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?” It turns out that this question was not a set up for a moment of theology. Jesus was not fishing for a compliment or for a confession of faith. This actually was a question.
At this point in Jesus’ ministry, people were genuinely confused about who he was. Before Peter’s response to this question, no one was saying “that’s him, he’s the Messiah.”
This is why when Peter gets it right, Jesus says “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah!” You can hear the joy in Jesus’ voice. He is elated when Peter gets it right, because the conventional wisdom about Jesus has got it wrong.
So (apart from showing Peter getting it right, for a change) how does this relate to the life of Peter, much less the life of Paul? This clarity about who Jesus is, and their willingness to act on that clarity, is the basis for everything that will follow in the lives of both Peter and Paul.
More on Peter and Paul tomorrow.