21st Sunday of Ordinary Time, Cycle A
Theme : “You are Peter and upon this rock I will build my Church!”
1st Reading : Isaiah 22:19-23
Responsorial Psalm: Ps 138
2nd Reading : Romans 11:33-36
Gospel : Matthew 16:13-20
- A number of years ago now, there was a man who sat just outside St. Peter’s square in Rome, who was (to put it mildly) unimpressed with the Papacy of Benedict XVI and the Vatican!
- This man used to shout at pilgrims: “Why are you cheering for that man? He is a human being. You should be worshipping God!”
- Of course, he didn’t like to hear counter-arguments or explanations!
- I am not sure if he is still there?!
- But look on the internet and you are bound to find similar challenges and criticisms of the present pope too!
- And some of those criticisms even come from Catholics!
- These challenges to the papacy – no matter who the pope may be at the time – cause us to think about why the Pope is such a big part of what it means to be Catholic!
- In a world of seemingly unlimited choices:
- Different shops and malls,
- Different brands and varieties,
- Different times, and
- Different channels
- Many would like to have this same level of choice with regard to their faith!
- They would like to be able to pick and choose from their Catholic faith
- Selecting what is convenient for themselves!
- And of course, this really means choosing what is easy, what they like – including the man they think would be a good pope!
- But a clear message from today’s Gospel is that we cannot follow the thoughts, ideas and opinions of people – however well meaning or serious they may be!
- Instead, we must accept the teaching of Jesus – and not just parts of it – the parts we like and ditching the rest!
- The disciples tell Jesus at Caesarea Philippi that people have different understandings and ideas about who is – and I suppose – what he is doing!
- But it was St. Peter who was first to recognise Jesus as the Christ; the Son of the living God!
- Because Peter gets it, Jesus gives him a special responsibility for the mission of the Church!
- Peter was an ordinary – perhaps rather typical – man but Jesus was still able to use him!
- God has a direct interest in each one of us – ordinary men and women;
- And he uses each of us for his mission!
- Clearly, our faith is not just theory – it is grounded in real people, things, and events!
- God even became human in Jesus!
- This means that our faith has a real impact on, not only our own lives, but also the lives of others!
- Just look what an impact Peter’s faith has had on millions of people down the ages – including us!
- We must, therefore, be totally faithful and loyal to Jesus
- We cannot pick and choose the bits of the faith or the mission we like and ignore or disregard the rest!
- This may have its difficult moments and it can test us at times – as it tested Peter!
- And like St. Paul says to the Romans, we may not understand the way God is leading us – because they very often are inscrutable and beyond our mind!
- But Jesus and his ways are the rocks – the foundations – for the best possible life!
- Peter had a central role among the first Christians,
- so do his successors, down to Pope Francis in our time!
- To be a Catholic, entails being in communion with the Bishop of Rome
- He is a sure point of reference for the authentic belief of the Church!
- To have a bond with the pope means to build the Church
- To create a place of welcome and acceptance for all our brothers and sisters –
- Especially with those of them who suffer due to poverty, disease or violence!
- Yes, like St. Peter, each pope is still human, he will sin and make mistakes!
- Just like all of us!
- Peter shows us, that a commitment to Christ means a commitment to building the kingdom,
- A commitment that makes our community, our Church, our parish a better place to live in!
- So, when you are next in Rome or on the internet, and meet a vocal critic of the papacy, you might want to say – and hopefully they will listen: “I cheer for the pope who is only human because I am a human and he helps me and other humans to worship our God together!”