From Our Pastor's Desk
From Our Pastor's Desk
Sunday, August 27th, 2023 – Twenty-first Sunday in Ordinary Time - Cycle A Readings: Isaiah 22:19-23, Psalm 138 “Lord, your love is eternal; do not forsake the work of your hands”, Romans 11:33-36, Matthew 16:13-20
THE FIRST AMONG HIS BROTHERS
Today’s texts emphasize the place that Peter holds within the Church. He is the first among his brothers. He professes his faith in Christ on their behalf, but he also has the responsibility of building the Church on solid foundations and defending the patrimony of the faith.
Sisters and Brothers:
1. Peter is the protagonist of today’s Gospel, and so we must reflect on the mission entrusted to the Holy Father: governing the Church and sanctifying the people of God. We live in difficult times, where materialism and relativism are threatening the Church from all sides. In some countries persecution is intensifying and the number of martyrs is growing. This could easily cause general confusion and discouragement.
2. When the words of a wise man are backed up by the witness of a holy man, it becomes for us a Grace of God and sure reference in doctrine and customs. The Pope invites us to not be afraid: in the words of Pope Saint John Paul II, “Open wide the doors of your heart to Christ!” Each and every Christian should respond with fidelity to his teachings and with childlike love for his person.
3. The responsibilities and attributes entrusted to Peter are represented by three symbols: “rock”, “keys”, and “to bind and to loose”
Rock: Peter is the rock that guarantees the stability of the Church. “You are Peter and upon this Rock I will build my Church.” Peter and his successors were entrusted with this mission for the sake of the Christian community.
Keys: He who holds the keys of a house or city has the responsibility of protecting it. With regard to the Pope, these are powers of administration and government in the spiritual realm. Peter is the guardian of the faith and customs of the Church. The keys symbolize the authority of “opening and shutting” that Peter has been given.
To bind and to loose: this metaphor uses legal language that ordinarily designates what is permitted or prohibited. In gospel language, however, it means the capacity of discerning in order to distinguish what is the will of God from what is not. It is not a power of domination but of service to the community.
The Pope is the reference point and the guarantee of doctrinal and moral orthodoxy, because Christ Himself confirmed his primacy in Peter: “The Pope is he who presides through Charity”
4. In today’s Gospel Christ asks us once again: “And you, who do you say that I am?” We know we cannot answer this question with human reason alone. Rather, it is a challenge that each one must respond to by learning to live in harmony with God and abandonment to his interior workings of hope and love. It is an act of freedom, a decision of faith. Only when the grace of Christ unmasks our egotism are we prepared to give the answer He most desires to hear: “You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God.” And so we are born into new light..
Source: ePriest.com / Best Practices and Homily Resources for Catholic Priests Fr. Paschal Chester, SVD