The Sacrament of Ordination (Christ Presenting the Keys to Saint Peter),
Painting by Nicolas Poussin (1594-1665),
Painted between 1636-1640,
Oil on canvas
© Kimbell Art Museum, Texas

The Sacrament of Ordination (Christ Presenting the Keys to Saint Peter),
Painting by Nicolas Poussin (1594-1665),
Painted between 1636-1640,
Oil on canvas
© Kimbell Art Museum, Texas

Gospel of 16 February 2023

Peter spoke up and said ‘You are the Christ’

Mark 8:27-33

Jesus and his disciples left for the villages round Caesarea Philippi. On the way he put this question to his disciples, ‘Who do people say I am?’ And they told him. ‘John the Baptist,’ they said ‘others Elijah; others again, one of the prophets.’ ‘But you,’ he asked ‘who do you say I am?’ Peter spoke up and said to him, ‘You are the Christ.’ And he gave them strict orders not to tell anyone about him.

And he began to teach them that the Son of Man was destined to suffer grievously, to be rejected by the elders and the chief priests and the scribes, and to be put to death, and after three days to rise again; and he said all this quite openly. Then, taking him aside, Peter started to remonstrate with him. But, turning and seeing his disciples, he rebuked Peter and said to him, ‘Get behind me, Satan! Because the way you think is not God’s way but man’s.’

Reflection on the painting

During the course of his public ministry, Jesus asks many questions. The Gospels are filled with questions that Jesus puts to us. But in today’s reading we are asked one of the most fundamental questions: ‘Who do you say that I am?’. It is a question that is addressed to each one of us. But how would we answer if we were asked that question? It is not only a question that looks for mere information or a textbook answer: it can be answered only answer from the depths of our hearts.

Peter’s answer to Jesus’ question was correct. ’You are the Christ’. However, there is much more to Jesus. He would want us to answer that he is our a friend, our teacher, our judge, our divine encourager,... Even though Peter gave a perfect answer, Peter still had to learn to accept the whole truth about Jesus, and continue to discover who Jesus truly was.

Our painting is by Nicolas Poussin and is part of a series of seven canvasses depicting the seven sacraments. Our painting today depicts the sacrament of ordination (the taking of holy orders to become a priest). Poussin depicted the gospel account of Christ giving the keys of heaven and earth to the kneeling apostle Peter, showing the authority vested in him as head of the Roman church: “You are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church . . . I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 16:18–19). Poussin infused the picture with emotional power, conveyed through the varied gestures and expressions of each apostle. The scene in the distance, a group of men discoursing, may suggest the grove of ancient philosophers, recalling the old order that gives way to the new order instituted by Christ. The figure on the far right, with his face obscured in shadow, is Judas Iscariot, who will betray Christ.

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Andy Bocanegra
Member
Andy Bocanegra
1 year ago

Thank you Lord for St. Peter. He truly is the the first of all the apostles. He is the first to declare Jesus the Christ. He is the first to get out of the boat to walk on the water. He was the first to swim to shore after seeing the risen Jesus. He also did not give in to despair after denying Jesus but had faith in the forgiveness of Christ. Oh that I could be like St. Peter. St. Peter please pray for us.

Ranen Niblett
Member
Ranen Niblett
1 year ago

Ah! Perhaps the 12th l see now is in the background behind Jesus !

Ranen Niblett
Member
Ranen Niblett
1 year ago

There appear to be 11 disciples in the painting including Judas. Am l missing one? The painting is beautiful.

Silvia Moiron
Member
Silvia Moiron
1 year ago
Reply to  Ranen Niblett

Hay uno que está agachado, que se ve muy poquito…

Silvia Moiron
Member
Silvia Moiron
1 year ago
Reply to  Ranen Niblett

Me parece que son 12 si contás el que está agachado también, y que casi no se ve

Last edited 1 year ago by Silvia Moiron
Patricia O'Brien
Member
Patricia O'Brien
1 year ago

Peter speaks for us, and I am always glad of his fallibility – it gives me hope!
Poussin’s paintings generally – the subjects always look to me as if they are dancing…

Silvia Moiron
Member
Silvia Moiron
1 year ago

Buenos días! Quisiera saber gentilmente, cuando ustedes puedan, quién es el hombre que está a la izquierda, solo, leyendo. Muchas gracias desde ya y bendiciones!

Silvia Moiron
Member
Silvia Moiron
1 year ago

Muchas gracias Patrick! Dios te bendiga mucho, y que tengas lindos sueños.🌙

Chazbo M
Member
Chazbo M
1 year ago

There are not many people walking the streets of the western world today who would echo Peter’s words “you are the Christ”. But to state the obvious we Christians must do so otherwise we aren’t his followers.

spaceforgrace
Member
spaceforgrace
1 year ago

A very familiar reading with not so familiar painting. I am thinking how excited you must be, Patrick, about your own upcoming ordination? You will be in that privileged queue soon! I pray that between now and then you will be free of the influence of Satan too, as far as possible. I am sure all this support from CA will keep you strong.

Chazbo M
Member
Chazbo M
1 year ago
Reply to  spaceforgrace

It is a shame that our National Gallery here in London has all the Sacrament paintings by Poussin except for this one. This might explain why this one is not so familiar. Come on Kimbell Art Museum – hand it over!!

Simon Dahdah
Member
Simon Dahdah
1 year ago

How do we feel about Jesus saying to Peter “Get behind me Satan?” I know he is the Christ so this must be a sinless action, so it must be good… I don’t know, it feels mean? Like I know I’m wrong and this must be a deeply nessascery and perfect thing of Jesus to do, but does anyone else struggle with it?

spaceforgrace
Member
spaceforgrace
1 year ago
Reply to  Simon Dahdah

No- I don’t. I feel Jesus is preparing Peter for the challenges ahead for him, which (as now) mostly come from Satan himself, and those challenges will be very real and difficult. We all know the failures of Peter during Christ’s passion. I think Jesus is saying here that Peter should not blame himself entirely, but recognise the times when Satan slips in. We must constantly ask God to rebuke the Satan in us too, and be assured He does so in this way, so as to protect and alert us. Sorry for the long explanation, but it is something that has grown in me very recently.

Michael Trudeau
Member
Michael Trudeau
1 year ago
Reply to  Simon Dahdah

When I was in the Navy, at night we would send the messenger of the watch to wake up the next watch. The messenger would wake up a person twice. If a third time was needed, he would throw a bag of ice into the sleeper’s bunk. It was pretty effective. I like to think that Jesus was throwing a bag of ice at Peter.
And Jesus didn’t tell Peter to depart from him, but to get behind him. Behind is by definition where a follower belongs.

Mike Baird
Member
Mike Baird
1 year ago

Jesus questions his disciples, first about what people are saying about him. Then he makes it personal, causing the disciples to search their own hearts. Impetuous Peter gets it right for once calling Jesus the Christ, the anointed Messiah.

I always eventually circle back to this question from Jesus. Who do I say he is? It’s important. My answer can change depending on what is happening in my life, on what I had for dinner last night and whether it agrees with me even. The only correct answer never changes and Peter nailed it. He is the Christ.

Jesus, you are the Christ, the one who leads me back home to God. I place my trust in you.
Saint Peter, please pray for me.

spaceforgrace
Member
spaceforgrace
1 year ago
Reply to  Mike Baird

A lovely reflection Mike. I agree wholeheartedly.

Edio Tunes
Member
Edio Tunes
1 year ago

Apesar de ser um homem de “gênio” forte, Pedro disse tudo..

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