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Twenty-first Sunday in Ordinary Time

Aug 24, 2020
Domenico Ghirlandaio / Public domain
1st Reading: Isaiah 22:19-23 
Resp. Psalm: Psalm 138:1-2, 2-3, 6, 8
2nd Reading: Romans 11:33-36
Gospel: Matthew 16:13-20 

Jesus said, And so I say to you, you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church, and the gates of the netherworld shall not prevail against it. First of all, let us go to the OT and recall that in the Psalms, God is repeatedly called the rock, which means He is the foundation on which everyone can depend – no matter what – sinners and saints alike. Psalm 6 says My help comes from God, He alone is my rock. In the 1 st letter of Paul to the Corinthians, Jesus, God's Word, who is our Savior is called rock as well. And the rock was Christ. So now, Jesus calls Peter, rock. All has been transferred to Peter and of course, down to our Pope. We are not asked to have faith in Peter, that he will not fail, but in Jesus's promise that the gates of the netherworld shall not prevail against the Church, which will uphold St. Peter and all his successors. God's Will, Jesus's promise, is what strengthens St. Peter and all the popes down through the ages and will continue to do so. Faith in God is the rocky fortress that protects all of us from being drawn into hell. We are not talking about a building, but grace – a free gift from God.

Why are we here at Mass today? Why do we pray and keep trying to be good and going to Confession? Because we have accepted the fact that God is our foundation of rock. Sometimes it seems that God isn't there for us and that He doesn't even hear our pleas – Sometimes it seems that we have no foundation, especially when suffering comes our way. Just like being bounced around on an airplane or on the water in a boat, we are happy to land on solid ground, so we will be happy when we live the way God asks us so that He is truly our foundation. It is hard for us to figure this out completely, but the more we begin to live for God and His Church and forget about worldly glamour, pride, lust, avarice and all other forms of greed, we will see what a true foundation God is. What is now hidden* will soon be revealed to us. What would we rather have: God's promise of a sure foundation of true love and bliss, or the world's promise of emptiness, pain and disillusion?

The choice is ours to make.

Written by Fr. Jim Curiel, OCD
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