Simon Peter recognises Jesus as the Christ – the Messiah – God’s anointed one, and the Son of the living God. It’s a powerful act of faith, made possible by God’s grace. In response, Jesus calls him to leadership of the Church that will continue to proclaim the Good News, after the Lord’s death and resurrection. With this call comes a change of name; Simon becomes Peter, the rock on which the Church will be built. Jesus gives Peter the keys of the kingdom – the power to teach and to forgive sins in God’s name.
The First Reading gives us an insight into how leadership should be exercised. Shebna was a powerful official in the palace of the King of Israel. The prophet Isaiah warns Shebna that, because he has used his position for his own advantage, he will be dismissed from his office and stripped of his privileges. The Christian leader should always be a servant of God’s people.
As we know, Peter was an imperfect disciple and an imperfect leader. He often misunderstood Jesus’ teaching, and his faith failed him at the crucial moment. Yet the Lord chose Peter as his instrument to build up the Church. The Lord chooses us, too, to play our part in his Church, and he gives us the graces we need to respond to his call.