Homily - Homily 21st Sunday Ordinary Time A - Fr Francis Afu

23 August 2020 

Homily for the Twenty First Sunday In Ordinary, Year A 2020


Tiempo de lectura aprox: 2 minutos, 10 segundos

You are the Christ….

Today’s Gospel from Matthew 16:13-20 raises a question: ‘Why was Jesus interested in knowing “who” the people and His disciples were saying He was?’ Matthew gives us a clue to answer this question by telling us something about the setting. It was Caesarea Philippi, a city known for its shrine to Pan, the god of the natural world. It was a god that was popularly accepted by the citizens of Caesarea Philippi; a god they made to conform to their own lifestyle.

Before now, Matthew had told us about Canaan, a town notorious for immorality and pagan worship. Jesus’ disciples have gone through these towns. They have had experiences contrary to their Land where the people worship one God and were guided by God’s commands. Perhaps, Matthew is telling us Jesus heard the inner struggle of His disciples. The people of were talking about Him, comparing Him to the prophets and predicting His fate of death.

They reminded His disciples of what happened to John the Baptist and the prophets who condemned their pagan worship and called them to repentance. This must have been a disturbing experience for Jesus’ disciples. Thus, some commentators believe that ‘Who do people say the Son of man is?’ was an open question meant to get His disciples to talk about what they have heard; since discouragement, indifference and despair come from what we hear.

But that was not all. Jesus shifted from what they have heard, to what they, themselves were saying. ‘But you’ He said, ‘who do you say I am.’ Is what you are saying any different from what they have said I am? This question confronted their own misconception of Him. It was meant to call them out of a world of human speculations to the revelation of God’s saving action, manifesting itself right before them. A world Jesus was recreating by being with them.

According to Dom Henry Wansbrough OSB Peter readily answered this question because he saw in Jesus the action of God. Jesus had reached out and saved him from drowning. He brought order to the sea and the wind dropped just as God in Genesis 1 brought order to the chaos through creation. Peter in this text is a man of memory. He is a man who remembers what the Lord has done, as such he was in tune with God’s self-revelation. He heard the Father and he spoke.

Thus Peter, ‘Man of little faith’ in Matthew 14:31 has become a man of explicit faith, professing not only faith in Jesus but also revealing the identity of Jesus as the Christ. What happened? Peter hung onto what he had witnessed in the sea. It was that experience that brought him to a deeper faith and that same witness kept him in faith. It stopped him from seeing himself as the sum of his weaknesses. Instead he saw himself in the light of God’s plan and saving action.

This man Peter, who was Simon – from the Hebrew Simeon – the one who hears, grew by hearing the word of God and witnessing His action to become Petros, the rock. Matthew’s report of Jesus changing his name from Simon to Peter indicates that conversion occurs when God’s grace meets our human response. And faith in God becomes the fruit of conversion. It becomes the rock from which many others are hewed or the rock on which others are called out and gathered for the Lord and His purpose.

Like Peter, we are called to journey from being Simeon, the one who hears God’s word to Petros, the rock that steadily keeps God’s word by loving God despite our weaknesses and sinfulness. For most times we focus so much on our weaknesses and failings that we forget God. We forget what He has done, and we become blind to what He is doing right now. It is by loving God as Peter did that we will come to know Jesus as the Christ, the one who has come to save us from the real enemy: our sins and guilts and unite us with the Father in heaven.


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