Faith and Family

Faith and Family for August 23: Keys to the Kingdom


MT 16:13-20

Jesus went into the region of Caesarea Philippi and he asked his disciples, “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?” They replied, “Some say John the Baptist, others Elijah, still others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.”



by Father Greg Friedman, OFM

A Franciscan story tells how St. Francis was about to send some of his brothers to preach in a hostile, pagan land. Everyone expected them to suffer martyrdom, and so those who weren’t going crowded around the missionaries, secretly hoping to boast later how they had met such saintly martyrs.

One timid friar in line was horrified when one of the missionaries told him, “So Brother Jordan, you, too, will come with us?” The young friar recoiled in shock, but then thought, “What if it’s the inspiration of the Holy Spirit that I go?” He took his dilemma to Francis himself, who advised him to follow his heart. Brother Jordan did accompany the missionaries, and survived to chronicle their exploits.

We may smile at the tale of the timid friar afraid to face martyrdom. But what would your reaction be? In today’s liturgy, the prophet Jeremiah, along with Saints Paul and Peter, are featured in Scriptural passages that evoke their own struggle with the possibility of martyrdom. What were their fears, their dilemmas, their response, in the face of God’s call?

The challenge of the Gospel for us rarely comes so directly. But it remains real. Day-to-day, there’s a lot we cling to. We want to save face, keep from rocking the boat, avoid the embarrassment of taking an unpopular stand. But at what cost?

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by Father Dan Kroger, OFM

• In the first reading (Is 22:19-23), who does Isaiah tell that God will be put out of his job?

Who will replace him? What authority will God give him?

• In this week’s second reading (Rom 11:33-36), Paul praises God’s great wisdom and mercy. He says that God’s judgments and ways are beyond our human understanding. Can we ever say exactly what God wants of us?

In the end of this section of Chapter 11, Paul says that everything is from God and through him and for him. What does Paul mean?

• The text of this week’s Gospel (Mt 16:13-20), is often used to show how Peter was the first apostle to respond with his opinion, not that of others. What is his answer to Jesus?

Jesus praises what God the Father has revealed to Peter. Then he gives him the name Peter which means “rock” and promises to build the church on Peter, give him “keys of the kingdom.” Did Peter understand what he said in answer to the Lord’s question?

Peter was still learning. He could not accept that Jesus would have to suffer (v. 23). What does Jesus call Peter in verse 23?


by Susan Hines-Brigger

• Building a church on top of a rock, like Jesus says in the Gospel, sounds like a pretty tricky job. Play a game where you try to stack things on top of each other, such as plastic cups or blocks, and see how high you can go.

• Play a game of “Who Am I?” Have everyone choose a person from the Bible and write down three things about that person. After you share those clues, let them try to uncover your person’s identity. You can also play this game using family, friends, or any other source of people–movies, sports, books, etc.–to guess from.

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