21st Sunday of Ordinary Time Year A

21st Sunday of Ordinary Time, Cycle A

Pulpit Plan

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!”
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