Homily for the twenty-first Sunday of the year - Year A - Mt. 16:13-20
 
 
by
 
Canon Dr. 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?» And they said, «Some say John the Baptist, others say Elijah, and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.» "
 
Just about wherever Jesus goes, in this case the region of Caesarea Philippi, north of Galilee, people ask themselves who this man is, a man who is not a stanger, but strange. For the people know more or less where Jesus comes from: "We know where this man comes from; and when the Christ appears, no one will know where he comes from." (Jn. 7:27) And yet, while Jesus is not a stranger, he seems strange, for he performs miracles: he heals the sick, he resurrects the dead, he multiplies bread, he walks on water!
 
The miracles of Jesus called out to each of the inhabitants of the regions Jesus visited. Many repressed it all in their subconscious, putting off until later - until much too late - their response to this most important question: who is this man? Now it is indeed a most important question. For Jesus is Grace itself. And we should be afraid that the grace that passes by here today will not pass by tomorrow... It is now, it is today that we must respond to this question: who is Jesus?
 
" «But who do you say that I am?» Simon Peter replied, «You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.» "
 
The Apostles, those whom Jesus chose, also thought about this question: who is Jesus? The Apostles set their gaze on Jesus: they stored in their memory an image of the Son of God! Now, when Jesus is considered as an "image", he reflects the Father, he is the "Image of the invisible God" (Col. 1:15). So, when the Apostles thought about the person of Jesus, it is as if they had inside themselves, but without seeing it, an image of the Father!
 
This - invisible - image of the Father will not remain without effect in the spirit of the Apostles. On the contrary! For this image of the Father came into them through the Son: it is by thinking about the person of Jesus that this image of the Father came into their spirit. Now, in accordance with the Will of God, all of this can be realized only under the action of the Holy Spirit: every action common to the Father and the Son is always realized in their common Spirit, the Holy Spirit...
 
On the eve of his Passion, Jesus expressly declared this: "The Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you." (Jn. 14:26) The Holy Spirit acts upon our memory, particularly when we think about the person of Jesus. The Holy Spirit acts in us to remove the veil from the image of the Father, by revealing to us who Jesus is. "He who has seen me has seen the Father." (Jn. 14:9)
 
" 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.» "
 
When the Holy Spirit acts upon our memory, he does not act on his own initiative. For he is the Spirit of the Father and of the Son. And he is first the Spirit of the Father. The Spirit is, first, as Person, the Will of the Father. When God speaks and reveals himself, whether in the Person of the Holy Spirit, or in that of Jesus the Son of God, or, with greater reason, in that of the Father, it is always the Father who has the initiative in this revelation. "For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven." (Mt. 16:17)
 
" «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.» "
 
We might think that this declaration by Jesus announces to those present something about the person of Simon, subsequently also called Peter. In fact, this declaration continues to explain who Jesus is: he is the builder of the Church, of whom Simon is the first Rock. Just as the Father, through the mouth of Simon-Peter, revealed himself in Jesus, in the same way, Jesus reveals himself in Peter!
 
May the Most Blessed Virgin Mary, who is the Spouse of the Holy Spirit, also act, in a certain way, upon our memory, in order that we might learn to know a little better who Jesus is!
 

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