Twenty First Sunday in Ordinary Time

Who do we say He is?

The Lord could have used many ways to establish his church and not rely on humans. He could have put angels in charge of running the Church with every move on earth dictated by him from heaven—no chance for human error. Instead, the Lord put the Church in the hands of people of faith. Good people, like Peter, but still people with all the limitations of being human.

Sometimes the humanity of individuals gets in the way of their divine charge. We know numerous times that happened with Peter. He tried to keep Jesus from going to Jerusalem and was reprimanded by the Lord and called “Satan” for trying to stop him. Then, after boasting that he would never deny the Lord, Peter denies him three times. Peter was a good man of faith, but sometimes he lost the vision of what was entrusted to him by God. Sometimes, we do the same.

After Pentecost when the Church was in its infancy, Peter would not agree with Paul that Jewish Christians and Gentile Christians were equal in the eyes of God. In Antioch, he ignored the Gentiles in favor of the Jews and started demanding Jewish laws be applied to converts to Christianity. St. Peter got into heated battles with St. Paul as to who was following the commands of Jesus. It didn’t take long to have our first major division in the Church.

However, we know that Peter was a holy man, but like us, he was very human— mistakes and all. When we think of how Peter lived and died for the Lord and how the Church flourished despite Peter’s failings, as well as the failings of those who were the Church authority after Peter, we know the work of the Holy Spirit is what has kept our Church alive.

For although Christ gave his authority to the Church, every now and then, those who exercise this authority let their humanity and sinfulness get in the way of their responsibility. Despite such a history of human errors, we know who we are when we say we are Catholic. Disciples of Christ, his mission, our fundamental beliefs, the basic dictates of our morals, and generous charity for all in need.

When leaders in the Church have become so self-absorbed in their egos and humanity, and disregard their actions, we all hurt and pay the price. Yet, despite those in authority that gave us a poor example of living the faith we claim— we maintain our Christianity and the Church still flourishes. The Church is far more than individuals, it is the Body of Christ. It is far more than human it is also divine.

After so many years of trying to grow in the Lord, I am still awestruck at the way the Lord uses me despite my human failings. When I think of some of the ways in which I let my ego get in the way, yet the Lord uses me makes up for my weakness so that I can help others. I am reminded that God’s power is far stronger than my own limitations. Sometimes it can be tough pastoral corrections, using the word “no”, and I may be unpopular with some. I also receive affirmation. It can come from those in authority over me or by-passing comments, notes or phone calls. I realize that God is using me as pastor, as priest, and fully human.

Perhaps there are situations in your own lives where you feel the same way. I’m sure that you have made decisions based on what your conscience is telling you. And recognized the Lord’s presence in the decisions despite your perceived human failings—and act despite popular opinion. That is what St. Paul means in 2 Corinthians 12:9–10 Paul confirms: “the Lord said to me “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is made perfect in weakness.” I will rather boast most gladly of my weaknesses,* in order that the power of Christ may dwell with me.d10Therefore, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and constraints, for the sake of Christ;  for when I am weak, then I am strong.

WE don’t gloat about our mistakes, and we know when we turn back to God, grace can work through those mistakes and lead to blessings.

Like Peter, we too are entrusted with the responsibility of leading others to the Lord. We recognize that we need to surrender to God’s will. WE listen for Him in our families, friends, and worship family. The Lord speaks to us in so many ways and times.

WE say who the Lord is to us when we rejoice in the plurality of our Church with the differing spectrums of all humanity cultures, races, ethnic groups, languages, and social structures–all the richness of the diversity that God has seen fit to bring together on His rock this Church.

When we say we are Catholic, we know our fundamental beliefs of faith and the dictates of our morals. We are aware of our overwhelming history of doing good for others in the name of Jesus—helping billions of people,

 Just consider how many religious women, sisters and nuns served our church through many centuries. Schools, hospitals, missions in jungle nations, brave out of love for the Lord and the Lords little ones.  We recognize that we are not alone when we allow the hand of the Lord-the work of the Holy Spirit, to work through us—in words and actions.

Who do you say that I am?