August 23, 2020
Twenty-First Sunday in Ordinary Time
Fr. Ed Smith
Isaiah 22:19-23; Romans 11:33-36; Matthew 16:13-20
As we progress with the project of adapting to the reality of the effects of COVID-19, which includes the gradual opening up of the parish church and school, and building on the new reality that is ours in today’s world, it seems that we are always in the midst of building something new. In this sense, then, this experience of change and adaptation is not really ‘new’ at all, but part of human existence. We are always constructing, refashioning, changing, adding, subtracting and reassessing things. Jesus, in today’s Gospel, tells Peter: “Upon this rock I will build my church.” We are the descendants of Peter. We are the Church. We continue the building project begun by Jesus with the first apostle. This architectural imagery reminds us that our lives of faith are built gradually and carefully, with prayer, trust, charity, openness, reflection and generosity. How can we do all this? It is only possible because Jesus is with us from the beginning. Notice in the Gospel that it is He who begins the dialogue with Peter: “Who do you say that I am?”. Peter then responds to this important question: “You are Christ, the Son of the Living God!”. Then, Jesus gives Simon his new name [Peter, which means “Rock”] and his new mission [“Upon this Rock I will build my church”]. The same is true for us. Jesus begins the conversation, and asks us, in one way or another, who He is for us. And we need to keep listening to hear what He wants to do with us. If you think about it, in one way or another, we are all called to the same vocation: to help build up the people of God [the Church]. So, whether we are raising a family, ministering to the poor, being educated in the faith, or dealing with a global virus, we are all part of God’s great commission for Peter and all who call themselves Christians. Let us do our part to build the City of God!