August 23, 2020
Jesus Christ, the Word of the Father, asks us, “And you, who say it is me?”
Simon Peter took the floor and said, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.”
Reading the book of Isaiah 22, 19-23
This is what the Lord says to Sobná, palace butler:
“I will kick you out of your post, you will be dismissed from office.
That day I will call my servant, Eliaquin, son of Skiers, I will wear your robe, I will wrap your band, I will give him your powers; he will be a father to the inhabitants of Jerusalem and to the people of Judah.
I put on his shoulders the key of David’s palace: he will open and no one shall close; it will close and no one will open. I will nail it like a stake in a safe place, it will be a throne of glory for your father’s lineage.”
Come out 137, 1-2a. 2bcd-3. 6 and 8bc
R/. Lord, your mercy is eternal, do not abandon the work of your hands.
I thank you, Lord, wholeheartedly,
because you heard the words in my mouth;
in front of the angels I will ting for you;
I will prostrate myself to your sanctuary. R/.
I’ll thank your name:
for your mercy and your loyalty,
because your promise surpasses your fame.
When I summoned you, you listened to me,
you deserved courage in my soul. R/.
The Lord is sublime, he looks at the humble
and by far he knows the superb.
Lord, your mercy is eternal,
don’t give up the work of your hands. R/.
Reading the Apostle Paul’s Letter to the Romans 11, 33-36
What an abyss of wealth, wisdom, and knowledge of God’s!
How unstoppable your choices and how untraceable your ways are!
Indeed, who knew the mind of the Lord? Or who was your counselor? Or who gave you first to be entitled to the reward?
Because of him, for him and for him there is everything. To him the glory of the centuries. Amen.
Gospel of the Day
Reading the Holy Gospel according to Matthew 16, 13-20
At that time, upon arriving in the Caesarea region of Philippi, Jesus asked his disciples:
“Who says that he is the Son of man?”
“Some that John the Baptist, others than Elijah, others than Jeremiah or one of the prophets.”
He asked them:
“And you, who say it’s me?”
Simon Peter took the floor and said:
“You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.”
“Blessed are you, Simon, son of Jonah, for this has not been revealed to you by flesh or blood, but by my Father who is in heaven.
Now I say unto you, Thou art Peter, and on this stone I will build my Church, and the power of hell will not defeat her.
I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; what you tie on earth will be bound in heaven, and what you untie on earth will be unleashed in heaven.”
And he commanded the disciples not to tell anyone that he was the Messiah.
Today’s Word message focuses on the Gospel, which leads us to Caesarea Philippi, where Jesus asks his disciples an important and decisive question: “Who do you say I am?” The question is also addressed to us today. It is a question that invites us to define who Jesus is to each of us, but also that defines us in front of him. The one who Jesus is leads me to think about who I am, in the midst of the world, in front of others, at work, at home, at every moment, from my personal relationship with Jesus himself.
Perhaps the important thing is not the question but the answer.
What answer are we going to give? Or better, what answer are we giving? Jesus does not want an academic, intellectual, or simple catechism, response from a moment or a day; Jesus invites us to give him a vital, compromising and committed answer, at every moment and every day, a response that defines our existence.
“You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God” has to be an answer that sprouts from the depths of our hearts, from the essential and profound experience of our personal relationship with Jesus, as a vital experience of his mercy and his love for each of us. Jesus Christ is someone who changes our lives, who renews it to us every day, who accompanies us in good and not so good, who always goes before us, who carrys the cross with us sharing our sufferings, who illuminates the way giving us the wisdom we need to decide what to do and how to do. It is God made man who has words of eternal life, who catches our hearts with his love and our intelligence with his words, who teaches us to call God Father and to call the brother the one next to me, who has given and gives every day life for us, who in the Eucharist becomes a living Word that clarifies our darkness and Bread party that nourishes our spirit.
He is the Way, the Truth, the Life, the Living Bread lowered from heaven, the living Water that leaps into eternal life, the good Shepherd who gives his life for his sheep, the Husband who loving tenderly his wife who is the Church, the Vine that feeds the vines that we are each of us, the One who has loved us first.
In the words of St Francis of Asses: “My God and my all”.
This question of Jesus leads us to rethly what Christianity is and what we make our Christian life consist of. Pope Francis says: “I will not tire of repeating those words of Benedict XVI that lead us to the center of the Gospel: ‘You do not begin to be a Christian by an ethical decision or a great idea, but by the encounter with an event, with a Person, who gives a new horizon to life and, with it, a decisive orientation’. Only through this encounter – or reunion – with the love of God, which becomes happy friendship, are we rescued from our isolated consciousness and self-referentiality” (Eg 7-8).
Therefore, the absolute reference in my life must be Christ who, by faith and baptism, inserts me into his Church and defines me as his missionary disciple. And I am his missionary disciple as I live my relationship with Him through the sacraments and feel sent by Him to be his witness of word and deed, especially through the works of mercy. Conversion to Him is the lifelong task that is shaping us with His person and makes us reflections of His glory.
The words Jesus addresses to Peter are also words to each of us. Traditionally, strictly speaking, they have been interpreted as the foundation of the authority of the Pope, Peter’s successor, over the whole Church. But the “You are Peter (rock, stone), and on this stone I will build my Church” is an invitation to each of us to become aware of our co-responsibility in the construction of the Church. Each Christian, who professes faith in Jesus Christ as the Son of God and receives baptism, becomes a living stone of the Church building, the Body of Christ, and the Temple of the Holy Spirit. We are all Church of Christ, by faith and baptism, called to perpetuate his presence in the world, to overcome the Evil One, to extend his Kingdom. To this end he entrusts us with the power of his grace, of his permanent presence with us.
Finally, Jesus’ command draws attention to his disciples not to tell anyone that He was the Messiah, which is called “the mesianic secret”. Certainly this responds to not wanting to exacerbate the expectation that, in his time, had been created around Him and which could lead to misinterpretation or misrepresentation of his message. But it also means, for us, that the discovery of Jesus as Messiah, as the Son of God, is a personal and non-transferable experience that everyone has to have, a way of faith that each one must walk, a gift from God that each one comes to us differently and at different times, when and as He desires and decides. Let us ask him, let us prepare for it, let us become worthy of such a gift. Or let’s thank him for him.
When we receive it we can say with St Paul: “What an abyss of wealth, wisdom, and knowledge that of God! How unstoppable your decisions and how untraceable your ways!… To him the glory of the centuries.”
I thank you, Lord, wholeheartedly, my God and my everything,
for you have listened to me and taken me into your hands;
In front of all I will praise you and enjoy speaking of you;
I will prostrate myself in your Church to receive and worship you.
I will always thank you because your mercy and loyalty are permanent,
because your promise and your love exceed my expectations and desires.
When I summoned you, you heard me, you lifted me out of the fatal pit, out of the muddy pond. You made me revive, start a new life. You covered me up as a gala and a party.
I thank you, Lord, wholeheartedly, my God and my everything,
because you have noticed the weak, the humble, the poor, the needy, the sick, the imprisoned, the wounded, the discarded, the one who only has you.
Do not allow me to forget your accomplishments and your presences with me, of all that you have given me, of your goodness and mercy, of your patience and loyalty.
We are the work of your hands, do not abandon us, Almighty and eternal God, rich in mercy. Amen.