Homily for the twenty-first Sunday of the year - Year A - Mt. 16:13-20


by

Father Daniel Meynen
 
 

"Now when Jesus came into the district of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, 'Who do men say that the Son of man is?' And they said, 'Some say John the Baptist, others say Elijah, and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.' He said to them, 'But who do you say that I am?' Simon Peter replied, 'You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.' And Jesus answered him, 'Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jona! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven. And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the powers of death shall not prevail against it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.' Then he strictly charged the disciples to tell no one that he was the Christ."





Homily:


"Now when Jesus came into the district of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, 'Who do men say that the Son of man is?' "


After his excursion to the district of Tyre and Sidon, Jesus returned to the shores of the Sea of Galilee. There he multiplied the loaves for the second time (cf. Mt. 15:32), and doubtless he also healed a blind man in the town of Bethsaida (cf. Mk. 8:22). Then going directly north from there, he reached the district of Caesarea Philippi. There, he asked his disciples a crucial question: "Who do men say that the Son of man is?" That is: "What do people say about me?"


This question remains current today. One might even say that this question becomes ever more current. For it is a question concerning knowledge. At a time when the desire for knowledge of all kinds manifests itself in the proliferation of communications media and of education, we may ask ourselves if all of these people who are knowledgeable in so many diverse subjects are also as knowledgeable in the religious domain... You who know so many things, what do you know about Jesus Christ?


Jesus taught his disciples. And in her turn, thanks to the Holy Spirit, the Church also teaches new disciples of Jesus Christ, all the men and women who truly want to follow the Savior, first for the salvation of their soul, but also for the salvation of the world. The Church teaches the Truth, which is Jesus Christ, the Word of God made man. And to this end, the Church reads the Holy Scriptures in the Holy Spirit, following the Apostles and all those who succeeded them, forming a unique Tradition.


"And they said, 'Some say John the Baptist, others say Elijah, and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.' He said to them, 'But who do you say that I am?' Simon Peter replied, 'You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.' "


Peter said: "You are the Christ, the Son of the living God!" And Peter was right, for Peter spoke the Truth! In the Holy Spirit, Peter spoke, Peter said the Truth! In order that he might speak the Truth, Peter received a gift from God, a gift of knowledge for eternal Life. For eternal Life consists in knowing God: "And this is eternal life, that they know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom thou hast sent." (Jn. 17:3) This is why Peter said to Jesus: "You are the Son of the LIVING God!"


"And Jesus answered him, 'Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jona! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven.' "


Peter is happy! And not only happy, but blessed, for the Father has spoken to him! Peter is happy because knowledge of the Truth makes one happy! The Truth is beautiful! God is beautiful, and he makes us happy! How can one not be happy when one lives of the very Life of God, when one knows God, not with one's own intelligence, which is limited, but rather with one's heart! For the heart of man has no limitations in loving God with a love of knowledge: ceaselessly, the heart of man can increasingly know and love God, who is Truth!


" 'And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the powers of death shall not prevail against it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.' "


Here, we are in the presence of the greatest of all Mysteries! For it is the very Mystery of the Church that Jesus at once reveals and realizes for his disciples. Saint Paul would write: "This mystery is a profound one, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the Church." (Eph. 5:32) It is the Mystery of the union of Christ and his disciples, men and women of every language and of every nation. Indeed, Jesus says: "I will build my church." For Jesus is one with "his" Church!


But above all, this Church of Christ will be indefectible: the gates of hell shall not prevail against her! That is, the Church is and always will be the unique depositary of the Truth, which is God, which sanctifies, which saves for all eternity! The Church exists, and always will! Even if, God forbid, the clergy were to falter in great numbers, the Church would still remain what she is: thrice holy, like God!


May the Most Blessed Virgin Mary, who is the Mother of the Church, the Mother of Peter, and above all the Mother of God, intercede for all of Christ's disciples, in order that all of them might form but a single heart and a single soul, in the one and only Church of God!




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