Twenty-first Sunday in Ordinary Time, August 23
May We Devote Ourselves to Embracing God’s Will By Living the Fullness of His Truth in Our Daily Lives.
“But who do you say that I am?” – a question posed by our Lord to His disciples in today’s Gospel.
Did you ever notice how we seem to be inundated with opinion polls just before elections? It seems that someone is always asking someone else what they think, or what their opinions might be on a particular subject.
The results of the polls are then published, and analysts begin to offer their interpretations and formulate predictions as to what they consider to be possible election results, all to the consternation of the candidate who happens to have a lower standing in a polled system, a system which is, oftentimes, very flawed!
And when we look at Jesus’ original question, “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?” – the response which the disciples gave were answers which were also flawed, in the sense that even they did not yet fully grasp the reality of Divine Truth, Wisdom Incarnate, who stood directly before them!
And then, Jesus asks the question which becomes a pivotal issue, a focal point for our own lives of faith, “But who do you say that I am?” And without hesitation, Simon Peter’s response became the first public act of faith in Jesus Christ which we find in human history!
Imagine the wake of a large ship, the waves which it makes as it slices through the sea. The wake widens behind the ship as it continues to move forward until it is finally lost on the horizon. But this wake begins at a single point, which is the bow of the ship itself, cutting through the water.
Faith in Jesus Christ can be likened to this. It is as a wake that widens as it moves throughout the course of human history, and travels to the very ends of the Earth and to the end of time. But it must first start at a single point. And this point is Peter’s act of faith which we read today – a “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”
In our First Reading today from the Book of the Prophet Isaiah, we read a foreshadowing of the authority and responsibility which will be placed on the shoulders of Peter, when God speaks through His prophet, “I will place the key of the House of David on Eliakim’s shoulder; when he opens, no one shall shut; when he shuts, no one shall open.”
Scripture tells us that Eliakim was made “master of the palace”, a post roughly equivalent to what we would call a Prime Minister. As the King’s right-hand man, the “master of the palace” is given “the key of the House of David”. In Scripture, this use of the word “key” symbolizes authority, so bestowing the key to the House of David upon Eliakim is equivalent to giving him, as the King’s duly appointed representative, authority over the Kingdom.
With all this in mind, we can now better understand the conversation unfolding between Jesus and Simon Peter, “And so I say to you, you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church, and the gates of the netherworld shall not prevail against it. I will give you the keys to the kingdom of heaven. Whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven; and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.”
Christ is the True Foundation, the “Cornerstone” upon which His Church is to be built. But once He is risen and ascended into Heaven, this “Cornerstone”, though always present and active, is invisible. It is necessary for a sign to represent him, a sign that makes Christ, who is the unshakeable Foundation, visible and effectual throughout the remainder of Church history.
And this visible sign, this Vicar of Christ, is Peter, and, after him, each of his successors, whom we call the pope, as head of the descendants of the College of Apostles known as bishops.
Just as Eliakim was given authority over the kingdom of Judah, as the appointed representative of King Hezekiah as “master of the palace”, some seven hundred years before the birth of Christ, so Jesus, as the Divine King, now gives Peter “the keys to the kingdom of heaven” in effect making Peter His “master of the palace”, His Prime Minister, His duly appointed representative having authority as chief shepherd over the entire flock of Christ’s Church.
Again, we can go back to our First Reading, “I will clothe him with your robe, and gird him with your sash, and give over to him your authority” – a foreshadowing of Jesus’ taking the authority away from the high priest and the Sadducees and the Pharisees, whose hearts and souls were closed to the mind and the will of God, and conferring this authority upon Peter and his successors.
And Paul reminds us, in his letter to the Romans, “How inscrutable are his judgments and how unsearchable his ways! ‘For who has known the mind of the Lord or who has been his counselor?’”
The ways of God are oftentimes truly mysterious, for we find, in today’s Gospel, that the Only-Begotten Son of God has chosen, as His appointed representative, a weak human being. And, yet, in his weakness, Peter’s heart was open and receptive to the gift of faith, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah. For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my heavenly Father.”
Each of us, both you and I, can relate to Peter’s weakness. In spite of our openness to the gift of faith, we sometimes fall. We find ourselves sometimes failing, prone to our own sinful human nature, not unlike Peter’s.
And we can find ourselves praying the song of petition which our psalmist gives us in today’s Responsorial, “The LORD is exalted, yet the lowly he sees, and the proud he knows from afar. Your kindness, O LORD, endures forever; forsake not the work of your hands.”
And, in spite of all of Peter’s weaknesses and failings, he was never forsaken by Jesus. What Jesus saw in Peter, I pray He sees in each of us – a humble willingness to be open to the gift of faith with which He wishes to fill us, a humble willingness to accept whatever crosses may come our way, a humble willingness to live the virtues of charity and love for each other, no matter what the cost.
“But who do you say that I am?”
I pray that each of us may respond with not only the words of Peter, but with a life devoted to living the fullness of Divine Truth in all that we say and all that we do, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God”!
For it is through our openness to living His Truth and embracing His Divine will in our daily lives, whereby the words of Saint Paul become our own, “For from him and through him and for him are all things. To him be glory forever. Amen.”
May God bless you, God love you, and may God always keep you. †
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Por favor Comente, Le Gusta y Comparta, y Sugiera a tus amigos en Facebook – en difundir el mensaje del Misericordioso Amor de Dios.
Scripture for the Day
- “[Jesus] 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.’” (Matthew 16:13b-14)
- “He said to them, ‘But who do you say that I am?” Simon Peter said in reply, ‘You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.’” (Matthew 16:15-16)
- “Thus says the Lord, the GOD of hosts…‘On that day I will summon my servant Eliakim, son of Hilkiah; I will clothe him with your robe, gird him with your sash, confer on him your authority. He shall be a father to the inhabitants of Jerusalem, and to the house of Judah.’” (Isaiah 22:15a, 20-21)
- “I will place the key of the House of David on his shoulder; what he opens, no one will shut, what he shuts, no one will open.” (Isaiah 22:22)
- “See, I am laying a stone in Zion, a stone that has been tested, a precious cornerstone as a sure foundation; whoever puts faith in it will not waver.” (Isaiah 28:16)
- “And so I say to you, you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church, and the gates of the netherworld shall not prevail against it. I will give you the keys to the kingdom of heaven. Whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven; and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.” (Matthew 16:18-19)
- “How inscrutable are his judgments and how unsearchable his ways! ‘For who has known the mind of the Lord or who has been his counselor?’” (Romans 11:33-34 ~ Isaiah 40:13)
- “The LORD is on high, but cares for the lowly, and knows the proud from afar…LORD, your mercy endures forever. Never forsake the work of your hands!” (Psalm 138:6, 8bc)
- “As the deer longs for streams of water, so my soul longs for you, O God. My soul thirsts for God, the living God.” (Psalm 42:2-3a)
- “For from him and through him and for him are all things. To him be glory forever. Amen” (Romans 11:36)
Prayer for the Day
“Late have I loved You, O Beauty ever ancient,
ever new, late have I loved You!
You were within me, but I was outside,
and it was there that I searched for You.
“In my unloveliness, I plunged into the
lovely things which You created.
You were with me, but I was not with You.
Created things kept me from You;
yet if they had not been in You,
they would have not been at all.
“You called, You shouted, and You broke through my deafness.Saint Augustine of Hippo (The Confessions)
You flashed, You shone, and You dispelled my blindness.
You breathed Your fragrance on me;
I drew in breath and now I pant for You.
I have tasted You, now I hunger and thirst for more.
You touched me, and I burned for Your peace.”