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August 27, 2017

TWENTY-FIRST SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME

JMJ

Because I wanted to ‘sermonize’ about something other than the readings today, I thought that I would say something about them here. Actually, the Matthew 16 passage is one of my favorites. It talks about the apostle/fisherman, Simon, son of John, as our first pope. The way the scene unfolds, I think, is fascinating, and reflects the eternal planning of heaven in preparing for this high office in the Church.

In the first reading from the Old Testament, Isaiah speaks about that office being taken away from someone and given to another. This passage demonstrates the layers of meaning that Bible stories can have. It had a particular meaning for the first audience, but it also has a meaning for those of us in the New Testament era, as well. The authority of those teaching from the ‘Seat of Moses’ has been replaced by the authority of the one sitting in the ‘Chair of Peter’. By their rejection of Jesus, the Jewish people relinquished their first place as ‘the chosen people’ of God so that the foreigners, (remember I spoke about them last week-as us) might be grafted into the family of God.

Now having been a high-school shop teacher, I have always seen Jesus as taking his students, the apostles, on a field trip so as to make a specific point and to teach a particular lesson. He took them well north of Galilee to Caesarea Philippi to experience something special. They were standing there at the foot of a giant rock upon which was built a temple to a pagan god. It was there that Jesus posed the big question and got the big answer. “Who do you say that I am?” he asked his students. Simon raised his hand, (and maybe jumped up and down a little bit) and said “I know, I know. You’re the Messiah.” Jesus commended him for the correct answer, but told him he got some help. God the Father in heaven had whispered the answer in his ear (so to speak).

And Jesus went on to give authority to Simon and even changed his name. He changed it to Cephas, which means rock in Aramaic. That was eventually translated into Greek and we know it now, in English, as Peter.

And Jesus said, presumably in contrast to the pagan temple up on the top of that rocky mount, that “upon this rock” -namely Simon Peter- He would build His church.

And he did. And in 2000 years, the gates of hell have not prevailed against it.

If you ever go to Rome and visit the church named after Saint Peter, plan ahead and try to go on The Scavi Tour. It takes you directly below the altar which is directly below the dome, to the reputed tomb of Peter, The Rock. The guides invariably conclude their tour by commenting that what was just seen and experienced should give new meaning to the passage from Matthew, chapter 16. “Upon this Rock I will build My Church!”

~Fr. John

 

Addenda:

Welcome back to our students as we begin our 2017/18 School year, and a special welcome to all of our new families.

Remember that new Mass times (8am) start Wednesday (through Friday) with the first school Mass on August 30th.

Please come to the parish picnic on September 10, preceded by the Rosary at the Serenity Court.

Remember that our second Saturday movie is The Case for Christ (in Blu-ray HiDef with surround sound). Attendance is mandatory. Pizza, pop and popcorn will be available. Fr. J

 

 

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