You don't just go to Caesarea Philippi from Galilee. It is a two-day journey deep in to Gentile territory. Jesus and his disciples would be considered ritually unclean because of their journey there and thus, it was not a journey to be taken lightly. In chapter 16 we see Jesus talking to the Pharisees and Saducees so He was obviously not in gentile territory right before this took place and nothing but this encounter with Peter is recorded as having taken place in Caesarea Philippi; therefore, Sacred Scripture seems to imply that Jesus went to this place expressly for the purpose of having this talk with his disciples at the foot of a huge rock.
At the top of this rock was a temple built by Herod in honor of Caesar. The rock itself was the site of the pagan worship of Pan who was the pagan god of sheep and shepherds. At the base of the rock is a huge cavern that at the time was considered bottomless. Human sacrifices were thrown into the cavern and the pagans called this place the “gates of death.” The rock is also the headwaters of the Jordan River.
Sunday, June 29, 2008
Postscripts from the Catholic Spitfire Grill has reposted her article on Matthew 16:13-21 in honor of today's Feast of Sts. Peter and Paul. This passage was included in our Scripture reading for the day. Redneck Woman's article is really excellent, so if you've ever wondered about how we get Peter being Pope from Scripture, head on over and give it a read!