August 24, 2008
Twenty-First Sunday in Ordinary Time
Matthew 16: 13-20
Now when Jesus came into the district of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, "Who do people say that the Son of Man is?" And they said, "Some say John the Baptist, but others Elijah, and still others Jeremiah or one of the prophets." He said to them, "But who do you say that I am?" Simon Peter answered, "You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God." And Jesus answered him, "Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father in heaven. And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my Church, and the gates of Hades will not prevail against it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven." Then he sternly ordered the disciples not to tell anyone that he was the Messiah.
Introductory Prayer: My God, I believe in you with all my heart because you have made yourself known to me in so many ways, especially through the gift of your Son, our Lord Jesus Christ. I hope in you because you have never abandoned me. I love you, Lord, because you have loved me first and have shed your blood for my salvation. I want to love you with my whole life. Recognizing my sinfulness and trusting in your mercy, I humble myself before you. Mother Mary, I entrust my life to your maternal care so that I will always be faithful to God’s holy will for my life.
Petition: Lord, instill in me a greater conviction and a deeper faith in you.
1. Tell Me, Who Do People Say that I Am? Christ isn’t interested in having his disciples merely repeat what others say about him. He wants to know what they believe. “Do you believe in me?” He asks them this question, and he asks it of each of us as well. Our personal faith hinges on our answer to it. If we believe in Christ for who he says he is – God – we can’t help but be a different person. Christ wants each of us to take real ownership of our faith. This is what we were to do when we were confirmed. Christ is counting on each of us to make that supernatural act of faith in him today, as every day.
2. Have Confidence in Christ Peter gives each of us a lesson in how to have confidence in Christ. He doesn’t hesitate: He takes the bull by the horns and makes his declaration of faith in Christ as the Son of God. Declaring him God was a big move. It set Peter apart for life, but it also identified him more clearly as the one whom our Lord would choose to shepherd his Church through the guidance of the Holy Spirit. Peter shows us that we, too, need to stand up and be counted. Christ is pleased to hear Peter’s answer. He greatly desires to hear ours. The same Spirit that inspired Peter inspires us and helps us to persevere in the faith.
3. Counting on Our Fidelity Christ now takes the opportunity to reveal to Peter the specific mission that he is to accomplish and pass on to the next generations. It is not an easy mission, and I am sure that Peter reflected and prayed long and hard on it. Christ has called us to follow him in a very special way as well, each according to his or her state in life. Christ is counting on each of us to be faithful to him: loving him, loving his Church, loving the Pope, loving our spouse, loving the faith that is a gift to us. He is very much counting on us to respond with fidelity each day, just as he counted on Peter to respond faithfully.
Conversation with Christ: Lord Jesus, I want to be a faithful believer in you. I know that you are with me at all times and will never abandon me. Thank you for revealing yourself to me and allowing me to know you personally. Help me to stand strong when my faith is tested and to bear witness to you as St. Peter did. I never want to leave your side. Help me to remain faithful to death.
Resolution: Through word or action, I will witness my faith in Christ to somebody.
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