Homily for the 21st Sunday in Ordinary Time
With the onset of covid 19, we have been surrounded with questions: First to those in leadership… our government and medical people: ‘when will there be a vaccine?’ or ‘will there be a cure?’ We ask with valid concern:
‘What will happen when schools open?’ ‘When a vaccine is approved, will we take it once or will we need to get it every year?’ College and university students are questioning ‘what will it be like to stay at home and attend classes via computer screen?’ Two questions are asked when going into a restaurant: our name and phone numbers. Even here today… before we entered the church the same weekly questions were asked: Do you have ‘fever, previous illnesses, have we left the country…and so on.’ And in general, many of us no doubt have asked, “what will the future bring for us?”
In the Gospel for today, we hear that Jesus has questions for his disciples: “who do people say that I am?” And “who do people say that I am?” This was not a pop quiz for his followers. Rather Jesus wanted to see how their relationship had grown or deepened with him. What about us? How would we answer those questions? What if Jesus came in here and asked, “who do you say that I am?” How would we answer? Would we say that he is our friend? Healer? Brother? My Conscience? My Everything?
But what if we changed that question around? If we asked Jesus, “Who am I for you?” How would he respond to that? Sometime this week, tonight before bed or in some quiet time, I invite you to ask Jesus in prayer, “who am I to you?” Make a note of it, write it down, the first thing that comes to your mind that consoles you… Not too long ago, I read an article where this person shared with her pastor that felt like she was the black sheep. His response was excellent: he said, “PERFECT! Jesus especially loves the black sheep!!!”
Friday, we said ‘goodbye’ and ‘thank you’ to our summer students Ryan Booth and Alex Johnson. They had been with us this summer doing great work in our cemetery and other jobs that needed to be done around our parish. They not only worked hard but brought a lot of youthful life to our parish staff. In their own way, they revealed to us who Jesus is, their gentle presence, willingness to work hard, their fun and laughter, a future of hope… all ways of revealing the risen Lord to us.
Going back to the Gospel, even though Peter revealed who Jesus was, and is now called the rock, the foundation of the church, he is still a human being with the same struggles and weaknesses that we all have. Jesus gives him a leadership role… the keys to heaven, but wait until next weekend’s gospel… stay tuned!!
So where is the challenge for us? September is just around the corner… a time for all our ministries to kick into gear. What will this look like in the midst of pandemic? Not sure. But I am sure of this: We are the people of faith, and so must bear witness to the Light of Jesus Christ for the darkness of bigotry, prejudice is everywhere. We are called to support the lonely and the discouraged; to affirm all members of the human race that we encounter: at home, work or school. Like Peter in the gospel, those in leadership roles and those in our own faith community, we are called to ‘give life to others’ and to share our gifts with others. That is how we reveal Jesus to others. Amen.