Proper 16 – Year A

Exodus 1:8-2:10; Psalm 124; (or Isaiah 51:1-6; Psalm 138); Romans 12:1-8; Matthew 16:13-20

“Teaching is reminding others that they know just as well as you. You are all learners, doers and teachers.” – Richard Bach

Who are the teachers in the church, in the Christian community? The pastors? The theologians? The priests? The monks? The nuns? Matthew 16:19 has the famous line where Jesus tells Peter that whatever he binds or looses on earth is bound or loosed in heaven. This is an ancient rabbinic expression referring to teaching authority. From this passage one would get the impression that teaching authority lies exclusively with the leaders of the church, since it is addressed to Peter who by some is considered the first Pope. However, in Matthew 18:18 Jesus gives this same authority, using the exact same expression, to all his followers, not just to Peter, not just to the twelve apostles, but to all his followers, to all of us. This democratization of teaching does not mean that any fly by night idea is acceptable, or that we all will be standing up and delivering lectures. After all, Paul was right in today’s reading from Romans that we all have different gifts, not all the same gift. However, we will each teach, though in different ways. Some of us will publicly preach. Some of us will privately counsel and console others. Some of us will teach by example. St. Francis of Assisi said: “Always preach the Gospel. If necessary use words.” If we are to teach/preach we all, whatever be our unique gift, must seriously answer the questions posed by Jesus: “Who do people say the Son of Man is?” (Matthew 16:13) And “But who do you say I am?” (Matthew 16:15) Aside from this question, all other teachings in the Christian community are footnotes and postscripts. There inevitably will be wrong answers to these questions, as there were in Jesus’ day (Matthew 16:14). But the question is too important for us to be sidetracked. When we know who Jesus is we know who we are. When we know who we are we can all be teachers in one way or another in the Christian community.

Greek

In Matthew 16:18 Jesus calls Simon “Peter” and refers to him as a rock. In Greek the name Peter means rock. However, the name Peter here is masculine; and the same word for rock is feminine with just a slight difference in the ending of the word.

Haiku

To teach from within,

finding who Jesus, who we.

Teach loud to the world.

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