Homily from Father James Gilhooley
21 Ordinary Time
Twenty-First Sunday in Ordinary Time – A Cycle –
Without the 19th century essayist Charles Lamb, William
Shakespeare would be Missing in Action. It was Lamb’s
essays that snatched the 17th century playwright from
obscurity after he was famous for Andy Warhol’s fifteen minutes.
One night Lamb and his guests were chatting about Bill Shakespeare over Madeira port and illegal Cuban cigars. “Supposing,” one asked Lamb, “Shakespeare were to stroll into our dining room at this moment.” The essayist replied, “We would raise a glass of port to the great man.” “Supposing,” asked another, “Jesus were to come here.” Lamb answered, “We would get down on our knees.”
There is the difference between the Man from Nazareth and other great people you can think of. The Christ is God and all others, no matter what their deeds, are but actors strutting on the stage for a brief time and then exiting.
When today’s Gospel opens, Jesus was in Caesarea Philippi in the northeastern corner of Palestine. There the FBI and paparazzi would not look for Him. This was not His usual territory. The sand in His clock was running out. A barbaric cross awaited Him. Yet, He had much to teach the twelve before He could give them their theology doctorates. This was quality classroom time.
This, too, is one of the most decisive periods in Christ’s life. Though He was aware of His divinity, were His own people equally aware? He realized He had a rendezvous to keep with His executioners. Thus, He had to know whether the apostles had any inkling whom they were traveling with. The right answer to His question would make His day, even His life. The wrong answer would mean He was a loser. Three years of hard work would go down the tubes.
So, He put the question to them that went to the heart of the matter, “Who do you say I am?” Imagine how His skin must have crawled with pleasure when Peter acting as spokesman for the others told Him He was “the Son of the living God.”
Surely neither Peter nor any of the apostles with the possible exception of the young and sharp John could have given a precise theological explanation of that accolade. But every mother’s son of them knew in his guts that the highest human terms one could think of were totally inadequate to categorize their Leader. He was an original.
It is not enough to learn what others, even apostles, say about the Teacher. One could write an encyclopedia about the Christ and still not be a card-carrying Christian. One might spellbind one’s friends by telling them about all the thousands of volumes written on the eternal Galilean and still not be a believer. Jewish theologians have written beautifully on Jesus, but they do not believe. (William Barclay)
To each baptized, Jesus leans over and whispers, “But YOU…who do YOU say I am?” That question will never go away.
In their artistic works, Michelangelo, Rembrandt, Georges Rouault, Franco Zeffirelli. Andrew Lloyd Webber, and Mel Gibson have all given their answers to the Master’s searing question.
Now it is our turn to step up to the plate and take a swing. The Nazarene must forever be one’s discovery. Our knowledge of Him can never be something that stays in a closet. It must be outed. Christianity does not mean memorizing the Nicene Creed. Rather, it does mean knowing our Saviour.
Archbishop Oscar Romero of El Salvador, assassinated in 1980 while defending Jesus, said eloquently: “Christianity is not a collection of truths to be believed or laws to be obeyed. Rather, Christianity is a person. Christianity is Christ.”
Governor Pilate asked Jesus if He was in fact the King of the Jews. Christ, though exhausted and barely able to stand, shot back a query like an automatic machine gun, “Does this question come from you or have others told you about me?” (John 18:34)
When St Paul was writing to young Timothy on his word processor, he did not write, “I know what I have believed.” Rather he typed in his best hunt and peck manner, “I know WHOM I have believed.” (2 Timothy 1:12)
We must join to our belief John’s text of Christ that says, “Whoever believes in me will do the works that I do.” Like Christ, we must turn the community about us upside down. True faith produces a life full of actions, not a head full of facts; Christ came not to make us feel good but to do good. (Unknown)
If we bypass the question “Who is Christ?” by saying, “Let’s talk about me instead!”, we trivialize Christ’s challenge to us. Are you a follower of Jesus or just a distant admirer? (Unknown)
Digest of Articles from Catholic Blogs and Websites
August 24, 2014
If No One Is Pope, Everyone is Pope. A Homily for the 21st Sunday of the Year
The Gospel today sets forth the biblical basis for the Office of Peter, the Office of the Papacy, for Peter’s successors are the Popes. The word “Pope” is simply an English version (via Anglo-Saxon and Germanic tongues) of the word “papa.” The Pope is affectionately called “Papa” in Italian and Spanish as an affectionate indication that he is the father of the family, the Church.
That Peter receives an office, and not simply a charismatic designation we will discuss later. As to certain objections regarding the office of the Papacy, we will also deal later. But for now lets look at the basic establishment of the Office of Peter in three steps.
Twenty-first Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year A
Gospel (Read Mt 16:13-20)
Today’s Gospel is so familiar to Catholics that the potential for missing the punch it packs is inordinately high. If ever we are challenged on our belief in the papacy, we always look to this passage to begin our defense. We see that when Jesus quizzes the apostles about His developing reputation, they are well aware of what people were saying. This helps us understand that there was a buzz in the air about Jesus. The apostles had families and friends; they heard the conjectures about the itinerant preacher/miracle worker. The Jews, from their own history, had lots of ideas of who Jesus might be—Elijah, Jeremiah, or “one of the prophets.” Some even thought the spirit of the now dead John the Baptist had somehow come back to live in Jesus. Then comes the pivotal question: “But who do you say that I am?” We should move through this familiar part of the passage slowly if we are to let its importance register.
Twenty-first Sunday: The One Who Holds the Keys
This Sunday we are presented with two figures who are given keys. The first is Eliakim. Eliakim was the secretary to Shebna the Master of King Hezekiah’s palace back in the 8th century before Christ. According the first reading from Isaiah, Shebna lost favor with the Lord and was replaced by Eliakim. Isaiah goes on to say that God placed the keys of the Kingdom on Eliakim’s shoulder. He would be Master of the Palace and the one through whom others would have to go to get access to the King.
he Gospel reading presents Peter as receiving the keys of the Kingdom of God. Like Eliakim, he would determine who has access to the King. Peter is usually pictured as having carrying large keys, representing the authority given to him by the Lord.
Twenty-First Sunday in Ordinary Time
Matthew 16: 13-20
The reading from the prophet Isaiah that we hear at mass today: “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” is the lyrical muse for the beautiful antiphon “O Clavis David…” which the Church sings in the divine office every Advent, on December twentieth. This antiphon accompanies the Marian hymn known as the Magnificat and is intended to remind us—sung as it is in anticipation of the Nativity—that the promises of God whose fulfillment has been awaited since the time of King David are brought to completion in Jesus Christ.
Why the Pope must be infallible, even if he’s not impeccable
And 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.
We do not hesitate to assert the Christ Jesus is the true rock upon which the Catholic Church is built – how could there be any other? And yet, we likewise affirm that Peter is the rock upon which Christ has built his Church; for the Greek is clear: “Peter” is petros while “rock” is petra, and the Aramaic would be clearer yet as the one word used for both was cepha.
Holy Hour: Healing Through Forgiveness
Through many dark days and nights, Jesus the Eternal High Priest carried me through tumultuous waters. My encounters with Jesus during daily Holy Hours undoubtedly saved my family as the cross bore down upon us.
We, The Church Militant
Well, here we are in the 21st century Catholic Church. We have survived all of the liturgical innovations brought to us by the “spirit of Vatican II,” including clown masses, balloon masses, puppet masses, homemade banners, horrible liturgical music (Sons of God, anyone?), and somewhat-less-than-awe-inspiring architecture for new churches. For sure, Vatican II was a great Holy Spirit-inspired Church Council, and its sixteen documents are blueprints for a great future of the one, holy, Catholic, and apostolic Church of Jesus Christ.
The fear of suffering, pain, and death may seem like unconquerable mysteries. My time here at CPE [Clinical Pastoral Education] has helped me to understand, via experience, that they are not necessarily things that need to be conquered. No amount of faith excludes us from experience pain, loneliness, and death. Money, power, and other earthly things often make these three experiences worse as well.
Practicing Vocal Prayer
There are two broad divisions of prayer: vocal and mental. We shall consider these forms of prayer in some detail so that our notion of prayer may be well rounded and as accurate as possible.
Vocal prayer is prayer in word or action. Since man is composed of soul and body, he must use not only his mind in prayer, but also his body and its senses for the glory of God. You express your interior sentiments and reverence for God in articulated words or in bodily posture, such as kneeling, standing, bowing, or folding your hands. Vocal prayer can be as pleasing to God and as useful to you as mental prayer is.